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because he was desirous of stripping the bishoprics, and securing to himself a portion of the spoils; a design, which he could hope to accomplish by no other means, than by the triumph of this levelling faction. Even a fouler motive may be suspected. At one time, he entertained a project of marrying the Queen of Scots; and afterwards was in hope of obtaining the hand of Elizabeth herself. This latter hope he communicated to the Spanish' Ambassador, requesting that the King of Spain would use his influence to promote the match; and pledging himself, if it were effected, to restore the Romish religion in this kingdom. If he seriously entertained this project, no better course of preparation could be followed, than that of weakening and distracting the Church of England.
The proceedings of Elizabeth's government, both toward Papists and Puritans, were grounded upon these principles, that conscience is not to be constrained, but won by force of truth, with the aid of time, and use of all good means of persuasion; and that cases of conscience, when they exceed their bounds, and grow to be matter of faction, lose their nature; and, however they may be coloured with the pretence of religion, are then to be restrained and punished. When the Puritans inveighed against pluralities and non-residence, though the circumstances of the Church, and its extreme impoverishment, rendered inevitable what would otherwise have been an abuse, their zeal was not condemned; and they were long tolerated in their refusal of the habits and some of the ceremonies, with an indulgence, which, if the personal qualities of the first Nonconformists had not been considered, would appear to have been carried too far, and used too long. “There are some sins,” says Jeremy Taylor, “whose malignity is accidentally increased by the lightness of the subject matter ;... to despise authority, when the obedience is so easy as the wearing of a garment, or doing of a posture, is a greater and more impudent contempt, than to despise authority imposing a great burden of a more considerable pressure, when human infirmity may tempt to a disobedience, and lessen the crime.” The men for whose sake this indulgence was allowed, deserved, and were contented with it. But there were others, in whom the spirit of insubordination was at work; and who, if
Strada, vol. ii. p. 400. Ed. 1618.
their first demands had been conceded, would then have protested against the weathercock, made war upon steeples, and required that all churches should be built north and south, in opposition to the superstitious usage of placing them east and west. The habits at first had been the only, or chief, matter of contention; all the rites of the Church were soon attacked ; and, finally, its whole form and structure. The first questions were, as Hooker excellently said, “such silly things, that very easiness made them hard to be disputed of in a serious manner,” but he added, with his admirable and characteristic wisdom, “if any marvelled how a thing in itself so weak, could import any great danger, they must consider not so much how small the spark is that flieth up, as how apt things about it are to take fire.”
The object of the second race of Nonconformists was to eradicate every vestige of the Romish Church, and to substitute such a platform of discipline as Calvin had erected at Geneva: this they called “ the pattern in the mount,” and they were too hot and hasty to consider that Calvin's scheme was formed with relation to the peculiar circumstances of a petty state. He was invited thither by a turbulent democracy, who, having driven away their Bishop and his Clergy, had just lived long enough in a state of ecclesiastical anarchy, to feel the necessity of having some discipline established among them. An episcopal form was not to be thought of there ; nor was there any hope that the people would be satisfied, unless the system which he proposed had at least a democratical appearance. Wisely, therefore, because necessity required that his views should be shaped according to the occasion, he formed a standing ecclesiastical court, of which the ministers were perpetual members, and Calvin himself perpetual president; twice as many of the laity being annually elected as their associates : to this court full power was given to decide all ecclesiastical causes, to inspect all men's manners, and punish, as far as excommunication, all persons of whatsoever rank. That the discipline was of the most morose and inquisitorial kind, ... the members of the court being empowered
into the private affairs of every family, and examine any person concerning his own, or his neighbour's, conduct upon oath,... and that the Church of Geneva assumed as high a tone as that
Epist. Ded, to the fifth book. ? Hooker, Preface to his Ecc. Polity.
of Rome, must be ascribed something to the temper of the times, but more to that of the legislator.
The Genevan scheme had been adopted in Scotland, because Knox was a disciple of Calvin, and because the nobles, to whom that miserable country was a prey, preferred a church government under which they might divide among themselves the whole property of the Church.
of the Church. Its partisans in England proposed the discipline as the only and sure remedy for all the evils of the state, promising, among what Walsingham called " other impossible ? wonders,” that if it were once planted, there should be neither beggars nor vagabonds in the land. “In very truth,” said ? Parker," they are ambitious spirits, and can abide no superiority. Their fancies are favoured of some of great calling, who seek to gain by other men's losses; and most plausible are these men's devices to a great number of the people who labour to live in all liberty. But the one, blinded with the desire of getting, see not their own fall, which no doubt will follow : the other, hunting for alteration, pull upon their necks intolerable servitude. For these fantastical spirits, which labour to reign in men's consciences, will, if they may bring their purposes to pass, lay a heavy yoke upon their necks. In the platform set down by these new builders, we evidently see the spoliation of the patrimony of Christ, and a popular state to be sought. The end will be ruin to religion, and confusion to our country.” No great political calamities have ever befallen a civilized state, without being distinctly foreseen and plainly predicted by men wiser than their generation. Elizabeth perceived that the principles of these church-revolutionists were hostile to monarchy: men, she said, who were “over-bold with the Almighty, making too many scannings of his blessed will, as lawyers did with human testaments;" and she declared, that without meaning to encourage the Romanists, she considered these persons more perilous to the state.
The number of nonconforming clergy was but small; when an account was taken of them by Archbishop Whitgift, there were found 49 in the province of Canterbury, those who were conformable being 786. “The most ancient,” said he, “and best
1 Hacket's Life of Abp. Williams, part ii,
146. Strype's Whitgift, p. 155.
Strype's Parker, p. 4.33.
learned,' the wisest, and in effect, the whole state of the Clergy of this province do conform themselves; such as are otherwise affected, are in comparison of the rest but few, and most of them young in years, and of unsettled minds : ” and he complained how intolerable it was, that " a few men, for the most part young, and of very small reading and study, and some of them utterly unlearned, should oppose themselves to that, which by the most notable and famous men in learning, had been allowed, and in the use whereof God had so wonderfully blessed this kingdom.” But the tyrannical disposition of these people, who demanded to be set free from all restraint themselves, was even more intolerable than their presumption. As far as was in their power they separated themselves from the members of the Church, and refused to hold any communion with them. Instances occurred, where they were strong enough, of their thrusting the Clergy out of their own churches, if they wore the surplice, and taking away the bread from the communion-table, because it was in the wafer form. Some fanatics 2 spit in the face of their old acquaintance, to testify their utter abhorrence of conformity. There were refractory Clergy who refused to baptize : by any names which were not to be found in the Scriptures; and as one folly leads to another, the scriptural names themselves were laid aside, for such significant appellations as * Deliverance, Discipline, From above, More trial, More fruit, Joy again, Earth, Dust, Ashes, Kill-sin, and Fight-the-good-fightof-faith. But it is not in such follies that the spirit of fanaticism rests contented. They boasted in the division which they occasioned, and said it was an especial token, that the work came from God, because Christ had declared " he came not to send peace into the world, but a sword. That sword, it was their evident belief, was to be intrusted to their hands. Their first prayer had been, that the Church might be swept clean ; this was sufficiently significant; but when they found that they were not allowed to perform the task of sweeping, they prayed that God would strike through the sides of all who went about to deprive his ministers of the liberty which He granted them. A
1 Strype's Whitgift, p. 169. ? Strype's Annals, i. p. 460. 3 Strype's Whitgift, p. 329. * Heylyn's Hist. of the Presbyterians, p. 293. Strype's Whitgift, p. 124. 5 Ibid. p. 139. 6 Ibid. p. 124.
third race arose, who in contumacy and violence exceeded the second, as much as they had out-gone the first. They were for putting in practice the most dangerous maxims, which their predecessors, in the heat of controversy, had thrown out. Because it is better to obey God than man, they proclaimed that if the magistrates would not be persuaded to erect the discipline, they ought, instead of lingering and staying for Parliament, to prosecute the matter with celerity, and erect it themselves. This was a case in which subjects might withstand their Prince; the ministers, after due admonition, might excommunicate him as an enemy to the kingdom of Christ; and being so excommunicated, the people might then punish him. Such doctrines, mingled with the coarsest and foulest ribaldry, were promulgated in ferocious libels; the authors and printers of which long continued to elude and to defy the vigilance of the laws. Hitherto, so long as they had been contented with proposing what they desired, “ leaving it to the providence of God, and to the authority of the magistrates,” they had been borne with, except in cases of extreme contempt. But now, (they are Walsingham's' words, a minister who was disposed to regard them and their proceedings more favourably than he ought,) ... when they “affirmed that the consent of the magistrate was not to be attended; when they combined themselves by classes and subscriptions; when they descended into that vile and base means of defacing the government of the Church by ridiculous pasquils; when they began to make many subjects in doubt to take an oath (which is one of the fundamental points of justice in this land, and in all places); when they began both to vaunt of their strength 2 and number of their partisans and followers, and to use comminations that their cause would prevail, though with uproar and violence;
then it appeared to be no more zeal, no more conscience, but mere faction and division."
The Act which restored to the Crown its “ancient jurisdiction over the Estate Ecclesiastical and Spiritual,” provided that the Sovereign might appoint Commissioners to exercise this jurisdiction; they had authority to inquire into all offences which fell under the ecclesiastical laws, “ by the oaths of twelve men,
1 Hacket's Life of Abp. Williams, p. ii. 147.
? See Hooker's preface,