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that the most zealous Roman-catholics, admitted into the queen's cabinet, sought there the power they required for the accomplishment of their designs.
At the time when Popery was thus reappearing at the court of England, the Gospel was flourishing in the house of Oliver, who was occupied with his flocks and fields, his children, the interests of his neighbors, and above all in putting into practice the commandments of God. Salvation was come to his house, and his light shone before men. sessed great delicacy of conscience, and of this we shall give one instance which occurred a little later. After his conversion to God, he remembered what Zaccheus said to Jesus, as He went into his house: Behold, Lord, if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. Cromwell had taken nothing in that way; but, like other men of the world, he had won some money formerly in gambling. This he returned, rightly considering it would be sinful to retain it. The sums were large for those days; one of them being £80, and the other £120. His means were not ample, his family had increased; but such things had no weight with him. His religion was one not of words but of works. As soon as his conscience spoke, he acted on its suggestions, however great the sacrifice he was compelled to make. He remembered Christ's remark, and acted on it during his whole life: Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven ; but he that doeth the will of my Father, which is in heaven.
CROMWELL'S PARLIAMENTARY LIFE.
Cromwell's Election and first Appearance in Parliament-His Portrait
Tonnage and Poundage-Struggle in Parliament-Dissolution-John Hampden's Refusal — Absolutism and Popery installed—Evangelical Ministers-Persecutions: Leighton, Prynne, Bastwick, Burton-Scotland and the Covenant-New Pa ament-Strafford-Charles's Insincerity–Irish Massacre-Remonstrance-Militia Bill—Cavaliers and Round-heads-Charge against Five Members-Beginning of the Revolution—Cromwell and his sons become Soldiers-Necessity-Hampden's Opinion of Cromwell.
On the 29th of January, 1628, writs were issued for a new Parliament, in which, on the 17th of March, Cromwell took his seat as member for Huntingdon. His father also, in earlier years, had been returned for the same town. After a prorogation of three months, the legislature assembled again on the 20th of January, 1629. On the 11th of February, the House of Commons resolved itself into a grand Committee of Religion, in which one of the new members, Oliver, then thirty years of age, rose to speak for the first time. All eyes were turned upon him, and the House listened to him with attention. He wore a plain cloth suit, which seemed to have been made by a bad country tailor; his linen was not of the purest white; his ruffles were old-fashioned; his hat was without a band; his sword stuck close to his side ; his countenance was swollen and reddish ; his voice sharp and untunable : but his delivery was warm and animated ; his frame, although exceeding the middle height, strong and well-proportioned; he had a manly air, a bright and sparkling eye, and stern look.*
* Memoirs of Sir Philip Warwick, 247, London, 1701:
Certain ecclesiastics were then gaining notoriety by their zeal in forwarding, within the pale of the Church, the power of the king and the doctrines of Rome. Cromwell complained that the bishops permitted and even recommended the preaching of “flat Popery.” “If these are the steps to church preferment,” exclaimed he, “what are we to expect!”
- What are we to expect? ... asked Oliver; and this was in truth the great question of the age. The re-establishment of Popery was the object of the seventeenth century, and Cromwell's first public words were against it. He then set up the landmark which determined and marked out the course he had resolved to follow until his death. Even Hume, generally so hostile to him, is struck by seeing his first words correspond so exactly to his character. Cromwell, indeed, was from the beginning to the end of his life quite consistent; he was faithful to the one idea, which he proclaimed upon
the housetops. And it is this man, so decided, so open, who has been termed a hypocrite! History was never guilty of a greater error.
The Commons did not for the present stop at the extravagant doctrines of such semi-papists as Mainwaring, Sibthorp, and Montague, whom the Bishop of Winchester had taken into favor. It was a different question that led to the dissolution of Parliament. The king required that they should vote the duties of tonnage and poundage for life, which the Commons refused. The speaker Finch, a courtier, was desirous of adjourning the house immediately, according to the orders of his master; but some of the members, among whom was Mr. Holles, resisted, and in despite of his supplications and tears, held him by main force in the chair. The king sent orders to the serjeant-at-arms to withdraw with the mace, which would suspend all deliberation ; but he also, like the speaker, was kept in his seat. At the same time the keys of the hall were taken from him, and the doors were locked. Shortly after, a knock was heard on the outside : “Open,” said the usher of the black rod : “
a message from the king.” It was of no avail : the doors remained closed. Charles now grew furious, and sending for the captain of his guard, ordered him to force the door. But in the meanwhile the Commons had carried three resolutions : the first, against Armini. anism; the second, against Popery. In a portion of the Anglican clergy there was a combined tendency towards these two errors, and they are evils which possess in truth a great resemblance. Finally, by the third resolution, the House declared the levying of tonnage and poundage illegal, and those guilty of high treason who should levy or even pay such dues. When the captain of the guard arrived, he found the hall deserted. The House had adjourned in conformity with the king's order. On the 10th of March, Charles went down to the Lords and dissolved the Parliament, complaining of the behavior of the Lower House, particularly of “ certain vipers, who must look for their reward.” In effect, Holles Sir John Elliot, William Strode, and some others, were fine and imprisoned. This was the last Parliament in England for more than eleven years. Cromwell returned to Huntingdon.
One of Oliver's aunts, Elizabeth Cromwell, had married William Hampden, of Great Kimble, in Buckinghamshire, and was left a widow with two sons, John and Richard. John was a quiet and amiable man; no great talker, but a good listener; yet under this moderation and simplicity lay concealed a will of iron and a most determined resolution. It was the destiny of this individual to give the signal of resistance to Charles's arbitrary measures.
He was called upon for the sum of twenty shillings, his portion of the rate which the Commons had forbidden to be paid. He refused modestly, but firmly, being determined to try the issue at law. The judges, who would have preferred being silent, decided against him by a majority of eight to four. But the people looked upon him as the victor, and he became dear to all true hearts in England. Thus it was the family of Cromwell that began the struggle against Charles.
In 1631, Oliver, who had left Huntingdon, settled at Saint Ives; and it was while busied with farming at this place, that he wrote the letter which we have quoted above; in which, laying down, as it were, the future course of his life, he declares himself ready to do and TO SUFFER for the cause of God. It may be, however, that the simple obedience to the Word of God, which should be the essential characteristic of a Christian's practical life, does not stand forth in it with sufficient clearness, and that in its stead there is a somewhat mystic tendency. Cromwell afterwards became clearer and more sober in his views.
The agitation of England continued to increase. Charles was endeavoring to dispense with a Parliament, and to govern his kingdom by drawing more or less near to France and Spain. His ministers drove him into violent measures, and with a view to augment their strength, they soon formed an alliance with an unsound prelatism. Laud, archbishop of Canterbury and primate of all England, to whom Rome had offered a cardinal's hat, restored many of the practices and ceremonies of Popery. The communion table was replaced by an altar raised on several steps at the east end of the church ; the crucifix, pictures, and tapers were restored ; and the officiating clergy, in gaudy dresses, made genuflexions before the altar after the Romish custom.
The middle classes took the alarm. Associations were formed for the propagation of the Gospel; funds were raised to send preachers into various places, where it would be their duty not only to proclaim Jesus Christ, but to combat the popish superstitions under which it was now attempted to reduce the nation. The evangelical Christians of London, among whom was Mr. Storie, one of Cromwell's friends,
supported Dr. Wells, one of these “ lecturers” at Saint Ives. He was “a man of goodness and industry, and ability to do good every way” (as Cromwell writes to Mr. Storie on the 11th January, 1636), "not short of any I know in England.” Wells's preaching and conversation advanced Cromwell and