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liturgy; but, without absolutely rejecting the surplice, the use of the cross in baptism, the bowing at the name of Jesus, and other ceremonies, they observed, that the church service was perfect without them; that they were rejected by most of the protestant churches abroad, and that they had been the cause of much disunion and disturbance in England. They requested that none of their ministers might be ejected from sequestered livings, the incumbents of which were dead; that no oaths, subscriptions, or renunciation of orders might be required of them, until there should be a general settlement of the religious concerns of the nation*.
The king received these propositions with kindness, and communicated them to the bishops; some were for concessions to the dissenters; others, for an immediate and absolute rejection of their advances. Lord chancellor Clarendon, who had the sole direction, at this time, of the royal councils, sided with the latter. “ It was,” he always declared, “an an unhappy policy, and always unhappily
applied, to imagine that dissenters could be re“ covered or reconciled by partial concessions, or
by granting less than they demanded. Their “ faction,” he said, “ was their religiont.”
The answer of the bishops was expressed in guarded terms. They observed, that the law had sufficiently provided for many of the regulations solicited;---for those particularly, which were mentioned in the four preliminary requests; that the
• Collier's Hist. vol. ii. p. 871, 872, 873.
Life, vol. ij. p. 138.
bishops were willing to allow liberty of conscience, but could not allow conventicles, as these were dangerous to the state ; that the Common Prayer was altogether unexceptionable, and could not be too strictly enjoined; yet, that they were willing to revise it, if his majesty should think it proper: they were willing that extemporary prayer might be used both before and after the service;--but they were unwilling to part with any of the ceremonies.
The answer of the bishops being communicated to the king, his majesty caused a copy of it to be given to the dissenters, with an intimation, that he would commit to writing the particulars of the indulgence which he meant to show them; but that they should receive a copy of the instrument, and be at liberty to comment upon it before it was published. It was accordingly communicated to them : they returned a minute, which contained the heads of their objections. A meeting took place at the chancellor's; theking, accompanied by several of his principal nobility, attended ; the established church was represented by several prelates and some distinguished private divines; the dissenters, by Reinolds, Calamy, Baxter, and other ministers of eminence. The projected declaration of his majesty was read; each party was allowed to state succinctly their objections; and the dissenters availed themselves of this liberty. When the perusal and discussion of the declarations were finished, the lord chancellor read a supplemental clause, in which his majesty signified a wish, “ that others also might be per“ mitted to meet for religious worship, provided
" they gave no disturbance to the public peace; " and that they might not be molested by any
justice of peace, or other officer.” It was suspected both by the prelates and the dissenters, that this clause was introduced to bring roman-catholics and socinians within the projected toleration; both parties disapproved it for this reason; a profound silence ensued; but, after a short time, Baxter rose, and protested against the toleration of papists and socinians :-“ The presbyterians,” he said, “ desired not favour to themselves alone; “ and rigorous severity, they desired against none. “ As they humbly thanked his majesty for his in
dulgence to themselves, so they distinguished “the tolerable parties from the intolerable: for the
former, they humbly craved just lenity and favour; “ but for the latter, such as the papists and socinians, “ for their parts, they could not make their “ toleration their request.”
His majesty's declaration was then promulgated *: the language of it announced principles of moderation and comprehension. The king promised to provide suffragan bishops for the larger dioceses; that these should not confer ordination, or exercise any other act of jurisdiction, without the advice and assistance of presbyters, chosen by the diocese;that reasonable alterations should be made in the liturgy; that the church form of worship should not be forced on those who were unwilling to receive it; and that the surplice, the cross in baptism, or
October 1660. Collier has inserted it at length, vol. ii. p. 874.
the bow at the name of Jesus, should not be rigidly insisted upon.—His majesty closed the declaration, by solemnly recognizing the promise of religious indulgence, made by him at Breda.—It is a just observation of Hume*, that this declaration was made by the king as head of the church; and that he plainly assumed, in many parts of it, a legislative authority in ecclesiastical matters f.
It generally satisfied the dissenters. Baxter, as he himself declares, was overjoyed: he waited immediately on the chancellor, gave him many thanks for the concessions, and added, that, if the liturgy should be altered as the declaration promised, and the declaration itself made a law, he should think it a duty to encourage a general union I.
* Hist. c. lxiii.
“ The History of England during the reign of king “ William, queen Anne, and king George I, with an intro“ ductory review of the reigns of the royal brothers Charles 6 and James; in which are to be found the seeds of the revo“lution; by a Lover of Truth and Liberty, 2 vols. fol. 1744."
Mr. James Ralph, a political writer of eminence in his time, was the author of this history.--Mr. Chalmers thus speaks of it in his Biographical Dictionary :-“ This was
always considered a very useful work. Ralph had read a
great deal, and was very conversant on the history and “ politics of the country. He applied himself, with great “industry, to the study of all writings upon party matters : “ and had collected a prodigious number of pamphlets re
specting the contests of whig and tory, the essence of which
he incorporated into his work, so as to make it a fund of “ curious information and opinions, of which more regular “ historians might afterwards avail themselves.”—Mr. Fox, in his late historical work, pronounces him to be “ an * Dalrymple's Memoirs, p. 21.
The trials of the regicides soon followed this event; it appears, from what took place on them, that the feelings of the king, in their regard, were less vindictive than those of his parliament or his people. The trials were attended with one circumstance, which gave general disgust,—that several of the popular party sat as the judges of the criminals, and sentenced them to die for a rebellion, to which they themselves had excited them*
The civil dissensions of the kingdom appeared now to be effectually composed: but a further settlement of its religious agitation was obviously necessary: the roman-catholics, the anabaptists, and the quakers, would have been satisfied with toleration ; but prelacy and presbytery were striving for the ascendancy. An attempt to effect an amicable arrangement of their claims was made by a conference of twelve bishops and twelve dissenting ministers, which took place, under the royal authority, at the Savoyt. It was unsuccessful; and “ historian of great acuteness, as well as diligence; but who “ falls sometimes into the common error of judging too much « from the event.”—To be thus spoken of by Mr. Fox, argues no common merit. It appears to the writer of these pages, that an abridgment of this work, in which this historian's noble principles of whiggism should be allowed their place, with a continuation of it on the same plan, would be a useful and a popular work.
† March 1661. All the papers relating to the conference at the Savoy, are collected in the “ History of Non-confor“ mity."-A clear view is given of them by Mr. Neale, in his History of the Puritans, vol. ii. c, vi.