Page images
PDF
EPUB

Talbot, earl of Tyrconnel, was made lord lieutenant of that country, a vile and profligate officer, who scrapled no kind of barbarity and wickedness to serve his cause; he broke several protestant officers in the army, and by degrees turned them all out to make room for papists. All offices both civil and military were put into the hands of the vilest miscreants; there was not a protestant sheriff left in that kingdom; the charters were taken away, and new-modelled in favor of papists. The corporations were dissolved, and all things managed with an arbitrary hand, so that many, imagining the massacring knife to be at tbeir throats, left the kingdom ; some transporting themselves into England, and others into more remote and distant countries. Thus far the prerogative prevailed without any repulse.

Matters being now ripe for attacking the church of England in form, it was resolved to begin with making an example of some of their leading divines : Dr. Sharp, rector of St. Giles's, having disobeyed the king's order, of not preaching on the controverted points, and spoken disrespectfully of the king's religion in one of his sermons, the bishop of London was ordered to suspend him; but the bishop, with all respect and duty to his majesty, sent word, that he could not proceed in such a summary way, but that when the cause was heard in the commons he would pronounce such sentence as the canons should warrant; and in the mean time would desire the doctor to forbear preaching. † The court resenting the bishop's denial, cited bimț before the ecclesiastical commission Aug. 4, where he was treated by Jefferies in a manner unbecoming his character. themselves into New-England to advance the catholic faith there, and check the growing independence of that country. Life of Dr. Increase Mather, p. 43. Ed.

† Burnet, p. 83, 4, 5. I Dr. Compton, the bishop of London, had, by a conduet worthy of his birth and station in the church, acquired the love and esteem of all the protestant churches at home and abroad : and for that reason, was the mark of the envy and hatred of the Romish parly at court. He made a distinguishing figure in the following reigns. He was the youngest son of Spencer earl of Northampton, who was killed in the civil wars. After having studied three years at the university, and made the usual tour of Europe, he became a cornet in the royal regiment of guards; which gave occasion to the following Bon-mot; King VOL. V.

22

The bishop excepted to the authority of the court as contrary to law, and added, that he had complied in the doctor's case as far as the ecclesiastical laws would permit. However, notwithstanding all that his lordship could say in his defence he was suspended ab officio,* and the bishops of Durham, Rochester, and Peterborough, were appointed commissioners to exercise jurisdiction during his suspension. But Dr. Sharp, after having expressed bis sorrow in a petition for falling under the king's displeasure, was dismissed with a gentle reprimand, and suffered to return to the exercise of his function.

The king's next attempt was upon the universities : he began with Cambridge, and commanded Dr. Peachel the vice.chancellor to admit one Alban Francis, a benedictine monk, to the degree of M. A. without administering to him any oath or oaths whatsoever; all which his majesty declared he would dispense with.† The vice-chancellor having read the letter to the congregation of regents, it was agreed to petition the king to revoke bis mandate ; but instead of complying with their petition, the king sent for the vieechancellor before the ecclesiastical commission, by whom he was suspended ab officio and beneficio, for disobedience James, discoursing with him on some tender point, was so little pleased with his answers, that he told him, “ He talked more like a culonel than a bishop." To which he replied, " that his majesty did him honor in taking notice of his having formerly drawn his sword in defence of the constitution; and that he should do the same again, if he lived to see it necessary.” Accordingly he appeared in arms again a little before the revolution, and at the head of a fine troop of gentlemen and their attendants carried off the princess Anne, and marched into Nottingham. Welwood's Memoirs, p. 175; and Granger's History of England, vol. iv. p. 383-4. Ed.

* Though Bp. Compton was thus deprived of his episcopal power, he still retained his other capacities, particularly as a governor of Sutton's Hospital, and preserved the intre pidity of his spirit. For when an attempt was made by the recommendation of the king, to introduce a papist as a pensioner, contrary to the statutes of that institution, the bishop, in conjuntion with some other trustees, so firmly opposed the encroachment upon the rights of the foundation, that the court and commissioners saw fit in the end to desist from their design. Life of Bp. Compton, p. 15; where from p. 22-39, and Biographia Britannica, vol. iv article Compton, 55-6, second edit. may be seen a full account of his prosecution. Ed.

+ Burnet, p. 114-15.

and contempt of the king's commands; and Dr. Balderston, master of Emanuel-college, was chosen vice-chaneellor in his room.

Soon after the king sent a mandamus to the vice-president of Magdalen-college, Oxford, and to the fellows, to choose Mr. Farmer, a man of ill reputation, their president, in the room of Dr. Clarke, deceased; but in defiance of the king's maudate they chose Dr. Hough; for which they were cited before the ecclesiastical commissioners, but having proved Farmer to be a man of bad character, the king relinquished him, and ordered them by another mandate to choose Dr. Parker bishop of Oxford. The fellows, baving agreed to abide by their first choice, refused to elect the bishop, as contrary to their statutes. Upon which the commissioners were sent to visit them, who, after sundry enquiries and examinations, deprived Dr. Hough, and installed the bishop of Oxford by proxy; and the fellows refusing to sign a submission to their new president, twenty-five of them were deprived, and made incapable of any benefice. * Parker died soon after, and one of the popish bishops was by mandamus chosen president in bis place; which inflamed the church party so far, that they sent pressing messages to the prince of Orange, desiring him to espouse the cause of the church, and break with the king if he would not redress their grievances.Thus the very first beginnings of resistance to King James came from that very university which but four years before had pronounced this doctrine damnable by a solemn decree; and from those very men who were afterwards King William's most bitter enemies.t

The more desperate the war grew between the king and the church, the more necessary did both parties find it to shew kindness to the dissenters; for this purpose his ma

• It will be thought but justire to the memory of Bp. Sprat to state what he himself deciared was his conduct on this and the two preced. ing oecasions. It was this: he resolutely persisted in his dissent from every vote that passed against Magdalen-college; he opposed to the utmost the violent persecution upon the university of Cambridge: and he gave his positive vote for the bishop's acquittal both times, when his suspension came in question. Dr. Grey's Exaini. p. 406,7. Ed.

† Burnit, p.71.

jesty sent agents among them, offering them the royal favor, and all mavner of encouragement, if they would concur with him in abrogating the penal laws and test; he invited some of their ministers to court, and pretended to consult them in the present crisis.* The clergy, at the same time, prayed and intreated the dissenters to appear on their side, and stand by the establishment, making large promises of favor and brotherly affection, if ever they came into power.

The king, notwithstanding the stubbornness of the clergy, called a council, in which he declared bis resolution to issue out a declaration for a general liberty of conscience to all persons of what persuasion soever,t " which he was moved to do, by having observed, that though an uniformity of worship had been endeavored to be established within this kingdom in the successive reigns of four of his predecessors, assisted by their respective parliaments, yet it had proved altogether ineffectual. That the restraint upon the consciences

of dissenters had been very prejudicial to the nation, as was sadly experienced by the horrid rebellion in the time of his majesty's father. That the many penal laws made against dissenters had rather increased than lessened the number of them; and that nothing could more conduce to the peace and quiet of this kingdon, and the increase of the number as well as of the trade of his subjects, than an entire liberty of conscience, it having always been bis opinion, as most suitable to the principles of . * Amongst other measures, which expressed the disposition of the court towards dissenters, was the power with which some gentlemen were invested to grant out licenses directed to the bishops and their officers, to the judges, justices, and all others whom it may concern.The licenses were to this effect: “That the king's pleasure is, that the several persons (named in a schedule annexed) be not prosecuted or molested. 1. For not taking the oaths of allegiance and supremacy : or, 2, upon

the

prerogative writ for 20l. a month : or, 3, upon outlawries, or excom. capiend. for the said causes : or, 4, for not receiving the sacrament: or, 5, by reason of their conviction for recusancy or exercise of their religion, a command to stay proceedings already begun for

any of the causes aforesaid.” The price for any one of these licenses was 101. for a single person : but if several joined the price was 16). and eight persons mighi join in taking out one license. There were not very many dissenters that took out these licenses. Tong's Life of Mr. Matthew Henry. p. 45, 6, 12mo. Ed.

+ Gazette, No. 2226,

christianity, That no man should be persecuted for conscience sake; for he thought conscience could not be forced, and that it could never be tlie true interest of a king of England to endeavor to do it."*

This speech meeting with no opposition in the council, his majesty on the 4th of April caused bis gracious declaration for liberty of conscience to be published.t In the preamble to which bis majesty does not scruple to say,

That he cannot but heartily wish (as it will easily be believed) that all his subjects were members of the catholic church, yet it is his opinion, that conscience ought not to be forced, for the reasons mentioned in the foregoing speech," which he rehearses at large; and then adds, “By virtue of bis royal prerogative, he thinks fit to issue out bis dec. laration of indulgence, making no doubt of the concurrence of his two bouses of parliament, when he sball think it convenient for them to meet. And, first, He declares, that he will protect and maintain bis archbishops, bishops and clergy, and all other his subjects of the church of England, in the free exercise of their religion as by law established, and in the quiet and full enjoyment of their possessions. Secondly, That it is his royal will and pleasure, that all penal laws for non-conformity to the religion established, or by reason of the exercise of religion in any manner whatsoever, be immediately suspended. And to the end that, by the liberty hereby granted, the peace and security of the government in the practice thereof may not be endangered, be strictly charges and commands all bis subjects, that as he freely gives them leave to meet, and serve God after their own way, be it in private houses, or places purposely hired and built for that use, so that they take special care that nothing be preached or taught among them which may tend to aljenate the hearts of his people from him or his government; and that their meetings or assemblies be peaceably, openly, and publicly held, and all persons freely admitted to them; and that they siguify and

*Under all the pretences of tenderness, liberal policy and wisdom.which gilded over the king's speech, - It was well understood,” observes sir John Reresby, “ that his view was to divide the protestant churches, divide & impera ; that so the papists might with the more ease posBess theinselves of the highest place." Memoirs, p. 243. Ed.

| Gazette, No. 2231.

« PreviousContinue »