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by the feet, by the army, even by many of the chief corporations and counties of England; but especially by the several congregations of saints, dispersed throughout the kingdom. The royalists, though they could not love the man who had embrued his hands in the blood of their sovereign, expected more lenity from him, than from the jealous and imperious republicans, who had bitherto governed. The presbyterians were pleased to see those men, by whom they had been outwitted and expelled, now in their turn expelled and outwitted by their own servant; and they applauded him for this last act of violence upon the parliament. These two parties composed the bulk of the nation, and kept the people in some tolerable temper. All men likewise, harassed with wars and factions, were glad to see any prospect of settlement. And they deemed it less ignominious to submit to a person of such admirable talents and capacity than to a few ignoble enthusiastic hypocrites, who, under the name of a republic, had reduced them to a cruel subjection.
The republicans, being dethroned by Cromwel, were the party whose resentment he had the greatest reason to apprehend. That party, besides the independents, contained two sets of men, who are seemingly of the most opposite principles, but who were then united by a similitude of genius and of character. The first and most nume rous were the millenarians, or fifth-monarchy men, who insisted, that, dominion being founded in grace, all distinction in magistracy must be abolished, except what arose from piety and holiness; who expected suddenly the second coming of Christ upon earth; and who pretended, that the saints in the mean while, that is, themselves, were alone entitled to govern. The second were the deists, who had no other object than political liberty, who denied entirely the truth of revelation, and insinuated, that all the various sects, so heated against each other, were alike founded in folly and in error. Men of such daring geniuses were not contented with the ancient and legal forms of civil government; but challenged a degree of freedom beyond what they expected ever to enjoy under any monarchy. Martin, Challoner, Harrington, Sidney, Wildman, Nevil, were esteemed the heads of this small division.
The deists were perfectly hated by Cromwel, because he had no hold of enthusiasm, by which he could govern or over-reach them; he therefore treated them with great rigour and disdain, and usually denominated them the kèathens. As the millenarians had a great interest in the army, it was much more important for him to gain their confidence; and their size of understanding afforded him great facility in deceiving them. Of late years it had been so usual a topic of conversation to discourse of parliaments and councils and senates, and the soldiers themselves had been so much accustomed to enter into that spirit, that Cromwel thought it requisite to establish something which might bear the face of a commonwealth. He supposed that God, in his providence, had thrown the whole right, as well as power, of government into his hands; and without any more ceremony, by the advice of his council of officers, he sent summons to a hundred and twenty-eight persons of different towns and counties of England, to five of Scotland, to six of Ireland. He pretended, by his sole act and deed, to devolve upon these the whole authority of the state. This legislative power they were to exercise during fifteen months, and they were afterwards to choose the same number of persons, who might succeed them in that high and important office.
There were great numbers at that time, who made it a principle always to adhere to any power which was uppermost, and to support the established government. This maxim is not peculiar to the people of that age; but what may be esteemed peculiar to them, is, that there prevailed a hypocritical phrase for expressing su prudential a conduct: it was called a waiting upon providence. When providence, therefore, was so kind as to bestow on these men, now assembled together, the supreme authority, they must have been very ungrateful, if, in their turn, they had been wanting in complaisance towards her. They immediately (4th July) voted themselves a parliament; and having their own consent, as well as that of Oliver Cromwel, for their legislative authority, they now proceeded very gravely to the exercise of it.
In this notable assembly were some persons of the rank of gentlemen ; but the far greater part were low mechanics; fifth-monarchy men, anabaptists, antinomians, independents; the very dregs of the fanatics. They began with seeking God by prayer: this office was performed by eight or ten gifted men of the assembly; and with so much success, that, according to the confession of all, they had never before, in any of their devotional exercises, enjoyed so much of the holy spirit as was then communicated to them.3 Their hearts were, no doubt, dilated when they considered the high dignity, to which they supposed themselves exalted. They had been told by Cromwel, in his first discourse, that he never looked to see such a day, when Christ should be so owned. They thought it, therefore, their duty to proceed to a thorough reformation, and to pave the way for the reign of the Redeemer, and for that great work which, it was expected, the Lord was to bring forth among them. All fanatics being consecrated by their own fond imaginations, naturally bear an antipathy to the ecclesiastics, who claim a peculiar sanctity, derived merely from their office and priestly character. This parliament took into consideration the abolition of the clerical function, as savouring of popery; and the taking away of tithes, which they called a relict of Judaism. Learning also and the universities were deemed heathenish and unnecessary: the com mon law was denominated a badge of the conquest and of Norman slavery; and they threatened the lawyers with a total abrogation of their profession. Some steps were even taken towards an abolition of the chancery," the highest court of judicature in the kingdom; and the Mosaical law was intended to be established as the sole system of English jurisprudence.6
Of all the extraordinary schemes adopted by these legislators, they had not leisure to finish any, except that wbich established the legal solemnization of marriage by the civil magistrate alone, without the interposition of the clergy. They found themselves exposed to the derision of the public. Among the fanatics of the house, there was an active member, much noted for his long prayers, sermons, and harangues. He was a leather-seller in London: his name Praise-god Barebone. This ridiculous name, which seems to have been chosen by some poet or allegorist to suit so ridiculous a personage, struck the fancy of the people ; and they commonly affixed to this assembly the appellation of Barebone's parliament.?
The Dutch ambassadors endeavoured to enter into negotiation with this parliament; but, though protestants and even presbyterians, they met with a bad reception from those who pretended to a sanctity so much superior. The Hollanders were regarded as worldly-minded men, intent only on commerce and industry; whom it was fitting the saints should first extirpate, ere they undertook that great work, to which they believed themselves destined by providence, of subduing Antichrist, the man of sin, and extending to the uttermost bounds of the earth the kingdom of the Redeemer.8 The ambassadors finding themselves proscribed, not as enemies of England, but of Christ, remained in astonishment, and knew not which was most to be admired, the implacable spirit or egregious folly of these pretended saints.
Cromwel began to be ashamed of his legislature. If he ever had any design in summoning so preposterous an assembly beyond amusing the populace and the army, he had intended to alarm the clergy and lawyers; and he had so far succeeded as to make them desire any other government, which might secure their professions, now brought in danger by these desperate fanatics. Cromwel himself was dissatisfied, that the parliament, though they had derived all their authority from him, began to pretend power from the Lord, 9 and to insist already on their divine commission. He had been careful to summon
in his writs several persons entirely devoted to him. By concert, these met early; and it was mentioned by some among them, that the sitting of this parliament any longer would be of no service to the nation. They hastened, (12th Dec.) therefore, to Cromwel, along with Rouse, their speaker; and, by a formal deed of assignment, restored into his hands that supreme authority which they had so lately received from him. General Harrison and about twenty more remained in the house; and that they might prevent the reign of the saints from coming to an untimely end, they placed one Moyer in the chair, and began to draw up protests. They were soon interrupted by colonel White, with a party of soldiers. He asked them what they did there? “We are seeking the Lord,” said they. “Then you may go elsewhere,” replied be: “ for to my certain knowledge, he has not been here these many
CROMWEL MADE PROTECTOR.
The military being now in appearance, as well as in reality, the sole power which prevailed in the nation, Cromwel thought fit to indulge a new fancy: for he seems not to have had any deliberate plan in all these alterations. Lambert, his creature, who, under the appearance of obsequiousness to him, indulged an unbounded ambition, proposed in a council of officers to adopt another scheme of government, and to temper the liberty of a commonwealth by the authority of a single person, who should be known by the appellation of protector. Without delay, he prepared what was called the instrument of government, containing the plan of this new legislature; and, as it was supposed to be agreeable to the general, it was immediately voted by the council of officers. Cromwel was declared protector; and with great solemnity installed in that high office.
So little were these men endowed with the spirit of legislation, that they confessed, or rather boasted, that they bad employed only four days in drawing this instru.