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in with the puritans, greatly oppressed on
will appear in the eyes of most, in this age, as very trifling and insignificant, and very unworthy of the attention which was formerly paid it. They were a stiff kind of men, many of them, of both sides; of weak capacities or uninform’d understandings; who impos’d unreasonably, and resisted obstinately. But on the behalf of the puritans, it must be observ'd that they al. ways pretended conscience for their nonconformity, and, probably, as they were very great sufferers, they were sincere. This recommended them, as well as their regular behaviour, to the favour of the friends of civil liberty, and the lovers of virtue. These gentlemen, probably, saw many of their weaknesses, but they approv'd their honesty and integrity, us’d their interest to bring them out of trouble, and generously help'd them in their difficulties. Another thing there was, which added not a little to their worth in the eyes of many of the most considerable persons of those times, namely, an adherence to the doctrinal articles of the church of England, in the sense of the compilers, and a ftrong aversion to popery. The gentry then read and wrote books of religious controversy, and very many of them became converts to their party. But however, this is certain, the puritans were sufferers ; sufferers for conscientiously refusing to practise things which, in the opinion of their adversaries, were of no worth or value; sufferers from men who pretended to be rulers and governors in a Protestant church, whose doctrines they disown'd in many points; and sufferers from men whose pride, ambition, avarice, and cruelty had render'd them odious to the people in general, as well as to wise and considerate men. These persons here meant were courtprelates, in the times of James and Charles I.
Such as for their bellies fake Creep, and intrude, and climb into the fold.
account of their nonconformity, and appear’d
Of other care they little reck’ning make,
This is not meerly a poetical exaggeration. Soon afa ter these lines were written, a polite writer, who declares himself no puritan, speaks of these billiops in the following terms. The more our prelates enjoy, the • more ftill they seek; and all our three kingdoms are
grown so sick of their pride, injustice, and pragma
tical faction, that scarce any remedy but blood-let“ ting can cure them. We find in Scripture the most
high and holy offices of religion performed by princes, < even amongit and above the greatest of priests ; but • we scarce find any instance at all where priests inter" medled with any state affairs, either above or under • princes: and yet with us now the employing and en( trusting of clergymen in temporal business, is held as
politick as it was in the times of popery: although no ! time could ever justly boast of that use. But to pass cover temporal businesses, how violently have our bi• Thops been in their own canons about ceremonies, and • indifferencies and what disturbance hath that vio
lence produced? They strive as for the beauty and • glory of religion, to bring in the same forms of li'turgy, the same posture of the communion-table, the « fame gesture at the communion, &c. in all our three
as their advocate both in the country and the
dominions; as if uniformity 'were always beautiful : " and yet we see all men are created with several faces, r voices, and complexions, without any deformity to " the universe.'- This is a fine thought, and has been frequently made use of by our best advocates for toleration. The same writer, speaking of the same men, arferts that ' in the high commission, at the council table, • in the far chamber, and the chequer, churchmen are
now more active than in their own consistories, and " yet their ambition further aims (as 'tis said) to the chanI cery, court of requests, &c. which could not chuse " to sedound to the scandal of religion, the obstruction • of justice, and vexation of the subject. If there were ( not learned and skilful men enough in policy and law ' to serve the King, unless divinity were depriv'd of
some of her followers, there were some seeming um
• brage why the King might borrow of God; but when re) Discourse God's more holy office is neglected, that the King's concerning' meaner may be the worse administred, the world much Puritans, p. r gazes and wonders at it (e). We may naturally 36. 4to. Lond. prin- enough imagine men thus ambitious of power and wealth ted for Ro- were not overstocked with real religion ! and we may,
with like probability, conciude that pretences to contock, 1641.
science in their eyes had but an odd and ridiculous appearance ! and consequently that the persons who made use of them to justify their opposition to their injunctions would fare little the better for them. I will not enter here into the particulars of the hardships and oppressions which the puritans underwent from the prelates, and the high hand which was carried by these latter
over all who opposed them. I have given a sketch of (f) Histo- it elsewhere, and must reser such as may be uninform'd sical and thither (). However, the following short litany may count of the not be unacceptable cven to those who are best acquaintLife of ed with their transactions. It shews their behaviour,
and the sense men then had of it. P. 222.
parliament; that he censur'd and oppos'd
the À short LE TANI É. From this prelatical pride and their lordly dignities;
From all their superstitious vanities, and Popilh cereinonies ;
From their late innovations and mischievous policies;
From the cursed oath ex officio, and high commission cruelties;
From their Romilh clergy, and the peoples unsufferable miseries;
From their greedy gainful visitations, and the churchwardens enforced perjuries ;
From their most corrupt courts, and their vexing siaveries;
From all their fruitless shadows, and hypocritical formalities;
From their hatred and malice against Christ's appointed ordinances;
From their needlesly devised and troublesome conformities;
From all their illegal proceedings, and oppreßling tyrannies;
From their sinful synods, and all their papal hierarchy;
From Abaddon and Apollyon, with their priests, jesuits, their favourites, and all their furious blasphemers; Good Lord, deliver us (3).
View of the
prelatical From this little satyr appears how ill beloved, yea Church of hated, these men were, how tyrannical and cruel they England, po were deem'd! To oppose these then must have been 39. 410. meritorious; to screen such as were oppress’d by them, humane and charitable. Cromu'ell did this as much as lay in his power. When the puritans were like to come
(6) See Phila into trouble, he would attend on Dr. Williams, bishop is's Life of of Lincoln, at Bugden, and speak in their behalf (ń). Williams, What his success was appears not : probably but smail, 2.: 299.: 8vo.
Cambridge for Williams being joftled out of favour by the arts of 17co.
the court-prelates; and even preferr'd freedom in a foreign land (M) to the Navery and op
Laud, and Bukingham, to the latter of whom he had
[Charles] since the last fefsion, to certain persons quel« tioned in parliament. And we are told that he in
form’d the house what countenance the bishop of Win
chefier did give to fome persons that preached flat po< pery, and mentioned the persons by name, and how • by this bishop's means, Manwaring (who by censure
the last parliament, was disabled for ever holding any < ecclefiaftical dignity in the church, and confessed the
( justice of that censure) is nevertheless preferred to a (i) Ruih- ' rich living. If these be the steps to church-preferworth’s Col- « ment (faid he) what may we expect (i)?' But these lections, vol. efforts of his, as well as of the greatest and best men i. p. 655. folio. Lond, in the house of commons, were ineffectual. They were 1659. protected by Charles, who would rather dissolve a par
liament, than degrade a court-prerogative-bishop.
(m) He preferr’d freedom in a foreign land to the pavery and oppreffion which were continually increasing at home.] Charles I. and his ministers were bent on introducing uniformity in religion, and despotism in the state. They met with opposition in parliaments and therefore parliaments for a long course of years were laid aside. Private persons spoke and wrote against the measures pursued; but they got nothing for their pains but fines, imprisonments, or barbarous corporal punishments. The courts of law indeed were open -- but they were properly the King's courts. The prerogative was what they maintain’d and enlarged to the utmost of their power, and no man had a chance to succeed in them, who would not submit to it. In short, the judges declared in effect that the King's will was law, and that the pro. perty of the subject, was indeed his. After Hampden's