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the same ground. In Ireland Charles was fairly successful. On September I5, his Lord Lieutenant obtained from the Confederate Catholics, who were in arms against his Government, a cessation of hostilities, which would enable him to divert a portion of his own troops to the defence of the King’s cause in England; ultimately, as he hoped, to be followed by an army levied amongst the Irish Catholics. Charles’s attempt to win Scotland to his side was less successful. The predominant party at Edinburgh was that led by the Marquis of Argyle, who had climbed to power with the help of the Presbyterian organisation of the Church, and who justly calculated that, if Charles gained his ends in England, the weight of his victorious sword would be thrown into the balance of the party led by the Duke of Hamilton—a party which, embracing as it did the bulk of the Scottish nobility—would not only have made short work of Argyle’s political dictatorship, but would have taken good care that the Presbyterian clergy should, in some way or other, be reduced to dependence on the laity. When, therefore, English Parliamentary Commissioners arrived in Edinburgh to treat for military assistance, they were confronted by a demand that they should accept a document known as the Solemn League and Covenant, binding England to accept the full Scottish Presbyterian system with its Church Courts claiming as by Divine right to settle all ecclesiastical matters without the interference of the lay government. It is true that this demand was somewhat veiled in the engagement to reform religion in the Church of England, “according to the example of the best reformed churches," so as to bring the Churches in both nations to the nearest conjunction and uniformity. The leading English Commissioner, however, the younger Sir Henry Vane, was one of the few Englishmen who, as yet, championed a system of religious liberty, and he now succeeded in keeping a door open for it by proposing the addition. of a few words, declaring that religion was to be reformed in England according to the \Vord of God, as well as by the example of the best reformed churches. In this form the Covenant was brought back to \Vestminster, and in this form it
was sworn to by the members of Parliament, and required to be sworn to by all Englishmen above the age of eighteen. Few indeed amongst the members of Parliament willingly placed their necks under the yoke. It was the price paid for Scottish armed assistance, simply because that assistance could be had on no other terms. The alliance with the Scots was the last work of Pym, who died before the Scottish army, the aid of which he had so dearly purchased, crossed the Borders into England.
There were two ways of opposing the Scottish system of Divineright Presbyterianism, the old one of the Tudor and Stuart Kings, placing the Church under lay control; and the new one, proclaiming the right of individuals to religious liberty, which was advocated by Vane, and was, in the course of the next few months, advocated by a handful of Independent ministers in the Assembly of divines, and by writers like Roger \Villiams and Henry Robinson in the press. Like all new doctrines, it made its way slowly, and for long appeared to the great majority of Englishmen to be redolent of anarchy. The freedom from restraint which every revolution brings, together with the habit of looking to the Bible as verbally inspired, had led to the growth of sects upholding doctrines, some of which gave rational offence to men of cultivated intelligence and encouraged them to look for a remedy to the repressive action of the State. On the other hand, a small number of men, most of them attached to the Independent or Baptist bodies, fully accepted the principle of religious liberty, at least within the bounds of Puritanism. For the present the question was merely Parliamentary; but it might easily be brought within the sphere of military influence, and it was not without significance that, though Essex and \Valler, who had comparatively failed as generals, were on the side of Presbyterian repression, Cromwell, who had shown himself to be the most successful soldier in England, declared himself on the side of liberty. In the sectarian sense indeed, Cromwell never attached himself to the Independent or to any other religious body. In firm adherence to the great doctrine of toleration, which spread abroad from the Independents or from the
Anabaptists or Baptists, who were but Independents with a special doctrine added to their tenets, Cromwell was the foremost Independent of the day.
Not that Cromwell indeed reached his conclusions as did Roger \Villiams, by the light of pure reason. The rites prescribed in the Prayer Book were to him a mockery of God. On January I0, I6/1-'1. he ordered a clergyman, who persisted in using the old service in Ely Cathedral, to leave off his fooling and come down from his place. But he did not like the Covenant, and avoided committing himself to repression within the Puritan ranks till the beginning of February, I644, when he swore to it on his appointment as Lieutenant-General in Manchester’s army, doubtless laying special stress in his own mind on the loop-hole offered by Vane’s amendment. The cause of religious liberty appealed to him on practical grounds. How was he to fight the enemy, unless he could choose his officers for their military efficiency, and not for their Presbyterian opinions? The Major-General of l\lanchester’s army-Crawford, a Scot of the narrowest Presbyterian type—had objected to the promotion of an officer named Packer, who was an Anabaptist. “Admit he be,” wrote Cromwell in reply “shall that render him incapable to serve the public? . . . Sir, the State in choosing men to serve it takes no notice of their opinions. If they be willing faithfully to serve it—that satisfies. Take heed of being sharp, or too easily sharpened by others, against those to whom you can object little but that they square not with you in every opinion concerning matters of religion.”
It might be that religious liberty would in the long run suffer more than it would gain from military support, just as the principles of Andrewes and Laud suffered more than they gained by the support of Charles. Already the regiments under Crornwe_ll’s command swarmed with religious enthusiasts who spent their leisure in preaching and arguing on the most abstruse points of divinity, agreed in nothing except that argument was to be met by argument alone. Their iron discipline and their devotion to the cause permitted a freedom which would have been a mere dissolvent of armies enlisted after a more worldly system.