« PreviousContinue »
had been so inhumanly used for their oppofi
• merit, to fit in supreme councils and committees (as ( their breeding was) fell to huckfter the common" wealth. Others did thereafter as men could footh • and humour them beft ; so he who would give moft,
or under covert of hypocritical zeal, insinuate baseft, • enjoyed unworthily the rewards of learning and fide·lity; or escaped 'the punishment of his crimes and < misdeeds. Their votes and ordinances, which men • looked should have contained the repealing of bad o laws, and the immediate constitution of better, re- sounded with nothing else, but new impofitions, tax
es, excises ; yearly, monthly, weekly. Not to reck• on the offices, gifts and preferments, bestowed and
shared among themselves. And, if the state were in this plight, religion was not in much better; to
reform which, a certain number of divines were cal• Jed, neither chosen by any rule or custom ecclesias
tical, nor eminent for either piety or knowledge above ' others left out, only as each member of parliament, . in his private fancy, thought fit; fo elected one by 6 one. The most part of them were such as had preach• ed and cried down, with great shew of zeal, the ava• rice and pluralities of bifhops and prelates; that one 6 cure of souls was a full employment for one spiritual • pastor, how able foever, if not a charge rather above • human ftrength. Yet these conscientious men (ere 6 any part of the work done for which they came to
gether, and that on the public salary) wanted not La boldness, to the ignominy and scandal of their pal
tor-like profession, and especially of their boasted • reformation, to seize into their hands, or not unwil.. lingly to accept (besides one, sometimes two or more .. of the best livings) collegiate masterships in the uni
<versities, rich lectures in the city, setting fail to all, .6 winds that might blow gain into their covetous bo< soms; by which means these great rebukers of non• residence, among so many diftant cures, were not
tion to the prelates ; and we need not but
6 ashamed to be seen so quickly pluralists and non-resi.
dents themselves, to a fearful condemnation, doubt« less, by their own mouths. And yet the main doc6 trine, for which they took such pay, and insisted upcon with more vehemence than gospel, was but to
tell us, in effect, that their doctrine was worth no• thing, and the spiritual power of their ministry less • available than bodily compulfion; persuading the ma. • giftrate to use it, as a stronger means to subdue and < bring in conscience than evangelical persuasion; dif• trusting the virtue of their own spiritual weapons,
which were given them, if they be rightly called,
with full warrant of sufficiency to pull down all I thoughts and imaginations that exalt themselves
against God. But while they taught compulsion with< out.convincement, which, not long before, they com
plained of, as executed unchristianly against them· selves, these intents are clear to have been no better " than antichristian ; setting up a spiritual tyranny, by (a secular power, to the advancing of their own " authority above the magistrate, whom they would have • made their executioner, to punish church-delinquen• cies, whereof civil laws' had no cognizance. And ( well did their disciples manifest themselves to be no « better principled than their teachers ; trusted with ( committeeships, and other gainful offices, upon their 5 commendations for zealous, and (as they sticked not
to term them). godiy men, but executing their places • like children of the devil, unfaithfully, unjustly, un
mercifully, and, where not corruptly, stupidly. So " that between them the teachers, and there the disci
ples, there hath not been a more ignominious and
mortal wound to faith, to piety, to the work of re• formation, nor more cause of blafpheming given to " the enemies of God and truth, since the first preach- (c) Milton's sing of reformation (c).'- A stronger contrast, perF 2
haps, ii, p. 44.
with zeal he joined in it. The tyranny of the bishops had been long odious in his eyes,
haps, never was than what is formed by thefe two' pallages of the fame writer. However, in this latter, we may observe it is allowed they began well, tho" their after:deeds are represented as black, odious and detestable. Be they what they may, I am not concerned in their vindication. Those of them that fall in my way I will represent fairly, censure candidly, and leave them to the determination of the reader. That there was a glorious band of patriots in the house of commons, in the beginning of the long parliament, is too evident to be denied. Milton, by mentioning their actions, known facts, has established their character beyond all contradi&tion. Elated by prosperity, influenced by the priesthood, ensnared by wealth and power, or heated by opposition, 'tis very possible many things were done by them which can never be justified, though allowances be made for times of disorder and confusion: more especially the permitting their clergy to tyrannize over the consciences of men, like the prelates that went before them. This latter, indeed, seems to have given Milton the greatest disgust, who was a mortal foe to the dominion of priests, and a zealous affertor of the rights of conscience. He could not bear that the same kind of men should complain of and exercise oppression ; that those, in whofe cause he had drawn his pen, should defeat all his hopes, and manifest, that 'twas not liberty, but power, they had been contending for.
Because you have thrown off your prelate lord,
And with stiff vows renounc'd his liturgy,
From them, whose sin ye envied, not abhorr'd; . Dare ye for this adjure the civil sword
To force our consciences that Christ set free,
and therefore he adhered to their enemies in all their attacks on them: though he was far .enough from having formed a plan of a different government. 'I can tell you, Sirs,' said he to Sir Thomas Chichely and Sir Pbi
Montesquieu seems to account well for a behaviour which appears at first fight so unnatural. It is a prin• ciple, says he, that every religion which is perfecuted 6 becomes itself persecuting; for as soon as by some ac
cidental turn it arises from persecution, it attacks the • religion which persecuted it; not as a religion, but as [*] Spirit • a tyranny [*].
vol. ii. p. The parliament however rectified their conduct, 180. even on this head, to the fore displeasure of the lordly Presbyters, and kept them from misusing and oppressing their brethren. So that upon the whole, though they were not free from faults, yet were they, in the eyes of the knowing and unprejudiced, the ablest noblest set 6 of people this nation ever produced.' But let us appeal to facts. When Van Tromp set upon Blake in • Foleston-bay, the parliament had not above thirteen • ships against threescore, and not a man that had ever. • seen any other fight at sea, than a merchant ship and ' a pyrate, to oppose the best captain in the world, at• tended with many others in valour and experience • not much inferior to him. Many other difficulties I were observed in the unsettled state : few ships, want 6 of money, several factions, and some who to advance • particular interests betrayed the publick. But such
was the power of wisdom and integrity of those that « sat at the helm, and their diligence in chusing men < only for their merit, was blessed with such success, « that in two years our feets grew to be as famous as e our land armies; the reputation and power of our na6 tion rose to a greater height, than when we possessed
the better half of France, and the Kings of France and « Scotland were our prisoners. All the States, Kings and
• War. lip Warwick, ' what I would not have; wick's Me- though I cannot what I would * :' the 177. case of many others I suppose at that time.
He appeared very zealous for the remonstrance (P) of the state of the kingdom,
which, potentates of Europe, most respectfully, not to say sub(mislively, fought our friendship; and Rome was more • afraid of blake, than they had been of the great King r of Sweden, when he was ready to invade Italy with a s hundred thousand men. This was the work of thoie,
who, if our author (Filmer] say true, thought barely ' of the publick concernments; and believing things "might be weil enough managed by others, minded I only their private affairs. Thele were the effects of
' the negligence and ignorance of those, who being sud(d) Sidney 6 denly advanced to offices, were removed before they of Govern. ( understood the duties of thein (d).'--Mr. Iren hard
is, celebrates their actions in the following manner. "The Lond. 1698. parliament governed for five years, who made their
" name famous through the whole earth, conquered
publick miseries; and at last were passing an act for
( their own disolution, and settling the nation in a free (e) Short and impartial commonwealth; of which the army History of " being afraid, thought it necessary to diffolve them (e).' wanamk At The bare recital of these facts is an elogium mies, p. 19. 1
fufficient : 8vo. 1739. and every man who knows them to be facts, will be And notes, disposed to think favourably of those who performed (KK), (LL), (MM).
) them; and to contemn a writer who has the infolence is) Lans and ill breeding (though a frequenter of courts and a lo
ver of the polite arts) to call them a pack of knaves (f): W rk, vol. ü. p. 20.." (P) The remonfirance of the state of the kingdom.] This 12010. 1736. remontirance deserves very particular notice, as it oc
ment, p. 222. Folio.