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treason, and to pray his majesty to put in exccution the statute of 35 Eliz. against the non-conformists. The grand juries, the justices at their session, divers boroughs and corporations, the companies in towns, and at last the very apprentices, sent up addresses. Those who presented or procured them were well treated at court, and some of them knighted. Many zealous healths were drank, and in their cups theiswaggerings of the old cavaliers seemed to be revived. One of the most celebrated addresses was from the university of Cambridge, presented by Dr. Gower master of St. John's, which I shall give the reader as a specimen of the rest. It begins thus: “Sacred Sir! We your majesty’s most faithful and obedient subjects have long, with tue greatest and sincerest joy, beheld the generous emulation of our fellow-subjects, contending who should best express their duty to their sovereign at this time, when the seditious endeavors of unreasonable men have made it necessary to assert the ancient loyalty of the Euglish nation.—It is at present the great honor of this your university, not only to be stedfast and constant in our duty, but to be eminently so, and to suffer for it as much as the calumnies and reproaches of factious and malicious men can inflict upon us. And that they have not proceeded to sequestration and plunder, as heretofore, next to the over-ruling providence of almighty God, is only due to the royal care aud prudence of your most sacred majesty, who gave so seasonable a check to their abitrary and insolent undertakings.- We still believe and maintain, that our kings derive not their power from the people, but from Gull ; that to him only they are accountable ; that it belongs not to subjects either to create or censure, but to honor and obey their sovereign, who comes to be so by a fundamental, hereditary right of succession, which no religion, no law, no fault or forfeiture can alter or diminish ; nor will we abate of our well-instructed zeal for the Church of England as by law established.—Thus we have learned our own, and thus we teach others their duty to God and the king.”—His majesty discovered an unusual satisfaction on this occasion, and after having returned them thanks, was pleased to add, that no other church in the world taught and practised loyalty so conscientiously as they did. As such abject and servile flattery could not fail of pleasing the king, it must necessarily draw down vengeance on the non-conformists, who joined in none of their addresses, but were doomed to suffer under a double character, as whigs, and as dissenters. “This (says bishop Burnet.*) was set on by the papists, and it was wisely done of them, for they knew how much the non-conformists were set against them. They made use also of the indiscreet zeal of the high church clergymen to ruin them, which they knew would render the clergy odious, and give the papists great advantage when opportunity offered.” The times were boisterous and stormy; sham plots were contrived, and warrants issued against the leaders of the whig party for seditious language; Shaftesbury, now called the protestant earl, was sent to the Tower, and Stephen College, the protestant joiner, was carried to Oxford, and hanged, after the grand jury in London had brought in a bill of indictment against him ignoramus. Witnesses were imported from Ireland, and employed to swear away men's lives. “The court intended to set them to swear against all the hot party, which was plainly murder in them who believed them false witnesses, (says Burnett) and yet made use of them to destroy others.” Spies were planted in all coffee-houses, to furnish out evidence for the witmesses. Mercenary justices were put into commission all over the kingdom ; juries were packed ; and with regard to the non-conformists, informers of the vilest of the people were countenanced to a shameful degree, insomuch that the gaols were quickly filled with prisoners, and large sums of money extorted from the industrious and conscientious, and played into the hands of the most profligate wretches in the nation.
The justices of Middlesex shewed great forwardness, and represented to his majesty in Dec. “ that an intimation of his pleasure was necessary at this time, to the putting the laws in execution against conventicles, because when a charge was lately given at the council-board to put the laws in execution against popish recusants, no mention was made of suppressing conventicles.” Upon this his majesty commanded the lord-mayor, aldermen, and justices, to
use their utmost endeavor to suppress all conventicles and
in their favor, by shewing them, that while they were plundering and destroying their protestant dissenting neighbors, they were cutting the throat of the reformed religion, and making way for the triumphs of popery upon its ruins. Among other writings of this sort, the most famous was, the Conformists Plea for the JW'on-conformists, in four parts, by a beneficed minister and a regular son of the church of England. In which the author undertakes to shew, 1. The greatness of their sufferings. 2. The hardships of their case. 3. The reasonableness and equity of their proposals for union. 4. The qualifications and worth of their ministers. 5. Their peaceable behavior. 6. Their agreement with the church of England in the articles of her faith. 7. The prejudice to the church by their exclusion : and then concludes, with an account of the infamous lives, and lamentable deaths, of several of the informers. It was a sensible and moving performance, but had no influence on the tory justices, and tribe of informers. There was no stemming the tide; every one who was not a furious tory (says Rapin) was reputed a presbyterian. Most of the clergy were with the court, and distinguished themselves on the side of persecution. The pulpits every where resounded with the doctrines of passive obedience and non-resistance, which were carried to all the heights of King Charles I. No eastern monarch (according to them) was more absolute than the king of England.* They expressed such a zeal for the duke’s succession, as if a popish king over a protestant country had been a special blessing from heaven. They likewise gave themselves such a loose against protestant non-conformists, as if nothing was so formidable as that party. In all their sermons, popery was quite forgot, (says Burnet) and the force of their zeal was turned almost wholly against protestant dissenters. In many country places the parson of the parish, who could bully, and drink and swear, was put into the commission of the peace, and made a confiding justice, by which means he was both judge and party in his own cause. If any of his sober parishioners did not appear at church, they were sure to be summoned, and instead of the mildness and gentleness of a christian clergyman, they usual
* Rapin, p. 725. Burnet, p. 809,
ly met with haughty and abusive language, and the utmost rigor the law could inflict. There was also a great change made in the commissions throughout England. A set of confiding magistrates was appointed; and none were left on the bench, or in the militia, that did not declare for the arbitrary measures of the court: and such of the clergy as were averse to this fury were declaimed against as betrayers of the church, and secret favorers of the dissenters: but the truth is, (says the bishop) the number of the sober honest clergymen was not great, for where the car. case is, there will the eagles be gathered together. The scent of preferment will draw aspiring men after it. Upon the whole, the present times were very lowering, and the prospect under a popish successor still more threatening. It would fill a volume, to enter into all the particulars of these unchristian proceedings, which even the black registers of the spiritual courts cannot fully unfold. The reverend Mr. Edward Bury, assisting at a private fast, on account of the extraordinary drought, was apprehended June 14, and fined twenty pounds; and refusing to pay it because he did not preach, they took away his goods, books, and even the bed he lay upon. The reverend Mr. Philip Henry was apprehended at the same time, and fined forty pounds, and for non-payment they carried away thirtythree loads of coru which lay cut upon the ground, together with hay, coals, and other chattels. The informers took the names of one hundred and fifty more, who were at the meeting: they fined the master of the house twenty pounds, and five pounds more as being constable that year, and exacted five shillings a head from all who were present.— Examples of this usage in Londou, Middlesex, and most of the counties of England, are innumerable. The quakers published a narrative of the sufferings of their friends since the restoration, by which it appeared, that great numbers had been fined by the bishop's courts, robbed of their substance, and perished in prison.* Many had been so beaten and wounded for attending their meetings, that they died of their wounds. An account was also published, of the unjust proceedings of the informers, silewing, that at their instance many had been plundered