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troubles, persecutions, insults, and vexations to which the good Archbishop was exposed, are but feeble objects, when contrasted with the great event by which the rebels overthrew the Church, of which he was the root and branch. With what brutal rage, and sacrilegious fury they invaded all that the memory held dear, or the affections cherished; with what Vandal recklessness of wrong they dared to disfigure and profane the buildings sacred to religion, defiling even the altars of God; let them discover, who are so bigotted to party views, or so warped by prejudice and wicked carelessness of judgment, as to see in this awful and distressing disregard of decency, and this madness of turbulent rebellion, nothing but the just and certain vengeance of an insulted and priest-ridden nation!
We care not, whether they agree or not, in our conclusions as to the motives or the conduct of the Primate : but if there be any sense of prudence, any influence of decorous sentiments upon their minds, they will, at once, and without hesitation, openly declare, that guilty or not guilty, Laud was unfairly tried, and most unjustly condemned, by a faction who had shewn, that they had no regard for even the amenities of civilized society. Laud was condemned without law, and against law, and despite the pardon of his King. And with difficulty was he suffered to die honourably upon the block.
And now, when this venerable prelate approached his last moments, a victim to sectarian violence and blood-thirsty ambition, did he evince the animating power of that religion which he had preached and professed. No murmurs or lamentations escaped him: in prayers and supplications he bowed himself before Heaven; though he was long prepared for that blow, which was neither sudden nor unexpected. “So well,” says his chaplain,“ did he know how to die, (especially by the last and strictest part of his imprisonment,) that by continual fastings, watchings, prayers, and such like acts of Christian humiliation, his flesh was almost changed into spirit, and the whole man so fitted for eternal glory, death brought the bloody but triumphant chariot to convey him thither; and he that had been so long a confessor, could not but think it a release of miseries to be made a martyr.”
On the night before his death, the Archbishop, after refreshing himself with supper, retired to rest, and sank into a profound slumber till the morning, when he was roused by his servants ; so little did he fear his approaching fate. He felt that the malevolence of his enemies was at an end; aged and feeble, his days could not at the farthest be many; and to him death was welcome, since the Church had fallen, since learning had been supplanted by the dark fanaticism of revolutionary zealots. Yet he could not fail to mark well that thirst for his blood which his enemies had manifested: almost verging on the grave, why lead him to the scaffold, when he was under their power, and when imprisonment would soon have released him from their persecuting hatred ? Not that he wished to live. To beg his life by humiliating submissions, to drag out an existence, miserable as it must have been to him in that age of sectarian triumph; to have become the sport and mockery of enthusiasts :-his lofty soul disdained the revolting idea. To the brave man death has no terrors ; to the innocent no fearful anticipations; to the Christian, harassed by persecution, it is at all times welcome.
On the fatal morning, the 10th day of January, this heroic prelate, with the
utmost composure, proceeded to his devotions at an early hour. Thus he continued till Pennington, Lieutenant of the Tower, and other officers appointed by his enemies, came to conduct him to the scaffold. It was erected on Tower Hill. He had already prepared himself for death, and its bitterness was past. He had “committed his cause to Him who judgeth righteously.”
A vast concourse of people assembled to behold the last moments of this great man. The mournful procession left the Tower, and the Archbishop was conducted to the scaffold. On his way he was exposed to the abuse of the infamous rabble, who indulged in the most indecent invectives, as if wishing to embitter the death of a man whom they hated. Yet there were among that motly assemblage those who pitied his sufferings, and whose secret prayers were raised in his behalf; who, remembering him in his prosperity, could not unmoved behold this melancholy vicissitude, affected by those feelings which the sight of greatness in distress fails not to excite. The venerable sufferer himself seemed, least of all, to feel his own misfortunes. His undaunted courage and cheerful countenance, imputed by his friends to his innocence, by his uncharitable enemies to his hardihood in guilt, bespoke his inward complacency. With an apparent joy he mounted the scaffold, “as if,” says Fuller, “rather to gain a crown than to lose a head,"_"and, to say the truth, it was no scaffold, but a throne-a throne whereon he shortly was to receive a crown, even the most glorious crown of martyrdom."
The venerable Primate's enemies, however, seemed resolved to annoy him. They had crowded beneath the scaffold, and when he ascended it, they endeavoured to discompose him by looking upwards through the holes and crevices, with the most inhuman and indecent exultation. Yet his wonted humour and presence of mind did not forsake him. He besought the attendants to fill those crevices with clay; for he did not, he said, wish his innocent blood to fall on the heads of those deluded people.
Before he prepared for death he addressed the multitude in what has been termed a sermon speech, or his funeral sermon, preached by himself; and, as he feared neither the frowns of the vulgar enthusiasts who surrounded him, nor in that situation valued the applauses of his friends, he disdained any attempt to excite the sympathy of the beholders. From a written paper he read this address, commencing with the two first verses of the twelfth chapter of St. Paul's Epistle to the Hebrews, “Let us run with patience the race which is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Pp. 498–501. He then said he had done : he forgave all the world, and his bitter enemies who had doomed him to this death: he besought forgiveness of God, and then of every man whom he might have offended.
Having finished his dying address, the Archbishop then desired the people to join with him in prayer, and, kneeling down, he thus expressed himself:
“O Eternal God and merciful Father, look down upon me in mercy; in the riches and fulness of all thy mercies look down upon me, but not til thou hast nailed my sins to the cross of Christ." P. 504.
After these devotions, the Archbishop arose, and gave his papers to Dr. Stern, his chaplain, who accompanied him to the scaffold, saying, “Doctor, I give you this, that you may shew it to your fellow-chaplains, that they may see how I went out of the world, and God's blessing and mercy be upon you and them.” Then turning to a person named Hinde, whom he perceived busy writing the words of his address, he said, “Friend, I beseech you hear me. I cannot say I have spoken every word as it is in my paper, but I have gone very near it, to help my memory as well as I could, but I beseech you, let me have no wrong done me:" intimating that he ought not to publish an imperfect copy. “Sir," replied Hinde, "you shall not. If I do so, let it fall upon my own head. I pray God have mercy upon your soul.” “I thank you," answered the venerable sufferer; “ I did not speak with any jealousy as if you would do so, but only, as a poor
man going out of the world, it is not possible for me to keep to the words of my paper, and a phrase might do me wrong."
The Archbishop now prepared for the block, and observing the scaffold crowded with people, he said, “I thought there would have been an empty scaffold, that I might have had room to die. I. beseech you, let me have an end of this misery, for I have endured it long.” When the space was cleared, he said, " I will pull off my doublet, and God's will be done. I am willing to go out of the world; no man can be more willing to send me out, than I am willing to be gone."
Yet, in this trying moment, when he was displaying a magnanimity not exceeded by the holy martyrs of the primitive ages, he was beset by a furious enthusiast,-one of those revolutionary demagogues who had brought him to this melancholy end. Sir John Clotworthy, a follower of the Earl of Warwick, and an Irishman by birth, irritated because the revilings of the people made no impression on this renowned prelate, propounded to him certain questions, with the hope of exposing him to his associates. “What special text of Scripture,” asked he, “is now comfortable to a man in his departure?” “Cupio dissolvi, et esse cum Christo," was the Archbishop's meek reply. “That is a good desire,” said the enthusiast, “but there must be a foundation for that divine assurance." “ No man can express it,” replied the Archbishop, “it is to be found within." * It is founded upon a word, nevertheless," said Clotworthy, “and that word should be known." “ That word,” replied the Archbishop, " is the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and that alone.” Percieving, however, that there would be no end to this indecent interruption, the Primate turned to the executioner, and giving him some money, said, “Here, honest friend, God forgive thee, and do thine office upon me in mercy.” He was then desired by the executioner to give some sign when he should strike, to which he replied, “I will, but first let me fit myself.”
The Archbishop then knelt down before the block, and thus prayed : “ Lord, I am coming as fast as I can. I know I must pass through the shadow of death before I can come to thee; yet it is but umbra mortis, a mere shadow of death, a little darkness upon nature, but thou, by thy merits and passion, hast broke through the jaws of death. So, Lord, receive my soul, and have mercy upon me, and bless this kingdom with peace and with plenty, and with brotherly love, and charity, that there may not be this effusion of Christian blood amongst them, for Jesus Christ's sake, if it be thy will.”
Having thus prayed, the Archbishop laid his head upon the fatal block, and when he had said, “ Lord, receive my soul,” which was the signal for the executioner, his head was struck off at one blow.
Such was the melancholy but triumphant death of William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, aged seventy-one years, thirteen weeks, and four days. Thus he died, a victim to revolutionary faction and sectarian enthusiasm, a sacrifice to Presbyterian schism and Covenanting rebellion. The multitude, a part of whom came to scoff, and some to pray, had no sooner beheld the murder, than their eyes filled with tears: and many of them who had witnessed this his Christian, magnanimous, and triumphant death, returned with their prejudices alleviated, their passions calmed, their resentments mollified. Stern enthusiasts did indeed glory in the crime: and his fanatical enemies, like the Jews of old, thought they had done God service by this deed of infamy and blood. His friends, however, embalmed his body with their tears, and proceeded to perform the last offices of Christian duty with reverence to his memory and his exalted virtues. Thus he died, “ if, indeed, he may be said to die, the great example of whose virtue shall contine always, not only in the minds of men, but in the annals of succeeding ages, with renown and fame.” Thus died this most reverend prelate, * the King's and the Church's martyr; a man of such integrity, learning, devotion, and courage, as, had he lived in the primitive times, would have given him another name; whom, though the cheated multitude were taught to misconceive, (for those honoured him most who best knew him,) yet impartial posterity will know how to value him, when they hear that the rebels sentenced
him on the same day they voted down the Liturgy of the Church of England.”
Laud fell, and with him those works of splendour and magnificence which his lofty genius had designed; works which, had he lived, would have been the boast of England, the admiration of foreign nations. Avarice was no part of his disposition; the monuments of his munificence yet remain ; his enlarged soul disdained sordid aggrandizement; his country was to him the object of his unwearied solicitude, the Church of England the heir to all his fortunes. Laud fell, and with him the Church,—that Church, the piety and learning of whose clergy have hitherto been unparalleled, and never will be exceeded—that Church, the bulwark of the Protestant Reformation, established in the blood of its venerable Reformers, overthrown by the death of him, its illustrious and venerable son. Then was the triumph of sectarianism complete; religion and learning wept over the melancholy ruins; hosts of fanatical sectaries, Presbyterians, Independents, Anabaptists, Gospellers, Famillists, Seekers, and others, a vulgar herd, overran the kingdom; mechanics, soldiers, boys, and women, supplanted those scholars of renown, whose works are imperishable, whose names are immortal in the annals of our country. All was a scene of horrible confusion, of revolutionary strife, and lawless ambition. Yet happy was Laud in this his triumphant fall; he saw not that overwhelming inundation of fanaticism and rebellion which swept away the noble constitution of the English monarchy;—the ruin of the clergy; the murder of his beloved and gracious sovereign; the exile of the Royal House; the triumph of regicides; and the despotism of an hypocritical usurper.-Pp. 505–510.
While the names of his furious and relentless enemies are forgotten, or remembered only with the feelings they deserve for the blood which they shed, that of Laud will not cease to be venerated by every lover of pure and rational religion, by all who revere the institutions of their country, or know how to value the pursuits of learning and science. His lot was cast in days of peril, and worthy he was to have lived in a more enlightened age. His religion was unmixed with superstition; no sectarian feeling characterized his actions; his spirit was as catholic as the religion he professed, and the Church over which he presided.-P.544.
Happy, nevertheless, was his end in this, that he died for the Church of England, the reformation of which had not been effected without sacrifices no less melancholy and afflicting; happy, that he beheld not the overthrow of the Church he loved so well, and the misfortunes of a sovereign whom he served with scrupulous fidelity; happy, in conclusion, that he witnessed not the absolute but short-lived triumph of those numerous sectaries who, like locusts, overspread the kingdom; who, by the excitement of their ungovernable fury, spurned the salutary restraints which preserve men in peace and in necessary subjection, as the subjects of order and civil government; the accomplishment of whose daring purposes was marked by a convulsion, fearful in its consequences, criminal in its purposes, and sufficiently disastrous, till the reign of fanaticism, hypocrisy, and usurpation was brought to a close.—Pp. 545, 546.
Shall this eventful page of history be forgotten or neglected ? Rather shall it not be used, as used it ought to be, as a memorial and a warning unto us? The times are, it may be, in some respects, of different complexion to the days of Charles : but there is so much resemblance in the mass, that, we would fain receive this lesson of experience as a salutary check upon the wild and fanciful extravagancies of the day. Dissent, that hydra-headed child of Puritan production, has encamped her legions even in the very precincts of our citadel ; and a giant monster, born of Discontent and Treason, has lifted up the voice of war against us. What shall we do? Do, as
ir inheriteson! Forbid is craving
Laud did - do and die! What! are the descendants of men who sealed our liberty by blood, and who, even in the flames of persecution, and beneath the axe of the headsman, lifted up to heaven a strain of joy for their deliverance, because by that deliverance, painful as it was, they purchased freedom for posterity; are we, the descendants of these valiant champions of our rights and our religion, to sacrifice those rights so dearly purchased, that freedom so honourably acquired, because we are threatened by a craving and licentious demagogue ? Forbid it reason! Forbid it heaven! We call on those who value their inherited possession of emancipation to pause, ere they strike away the chief supporters of their independence: we bid them look to the annals of the past - and to ask themselves, whether for a temporary peace, which will be only the prelude to a more tremendous outcry, they are to sacrifice the honour, the renown, the safety of a Church and of a kingdom, which has only thriven, when it has been safe from the designs of foreign interference, and domestic broils. We call on our leaders and public guardians to be wise in time. When it shall be too late to close the gate, it will be vain to know that it was not opened to the foeman, save by a terrified warder ; and History, as she writes on the imperishable annals of futurity the records of this time of doubt and indecision, will blush, as she discloses to our sons, how the “ saviour" of England's honour in the field, betrayed her freedom in the forum, and he who had chained down the lion of the desert, and struck down the eagle in its flight of power, quailed at the shaking of a Popish arm, and tremblingly surrendered the privileges of his country to a lawless and insulting rabble. We call on him who holds the destinies of Europe in his grasp, to think of Torres Vedras : and we call on him who sits supreme in the ecclesiastical authority of the great temple of the Protestant faith, to think on the mighty and inflexible patriot who once held his very office, and also without reluctance gave his life, in order to insure its safe continuance to this distant day.
Art. II.- Ecclesiastical Annals from the commencement of Scripture
History to the Epoch of the Reformation, by Frederick SPANHEIM, D.D. Professor of Divinity in the University of Leyden ..... Translated, compressed, and illustrated with Notės, the Elements of Chronology, and Chronological Tables, by the Rer. George Wright, Incumbent Curate of Nun-Monckton, and Curate of Askam Bryan, in the County of York. Pp. xx. 681. Cambridge : Stevenson. London : Rivingtons. 8vo. 168.
FREDERICK SPANHEIM the younger, who for many years filled the Divinity Chair at Leyden, was deservedly esteemed one of the most