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From the King': Declaration of Indulgence to the Popish
Plot in the Year 1678.
1672. The French king having prevailed with the English court to break the triple alliance, and make war with the Dutch, published a declaration at Paris, signifying that he could not, without diminution of his glory, any longer dissemble the indignation raised in him, by the anhandsome carriage of the states-general of the United Provinces, and therefore proclaimed war against them both by sea and land. In the beginning of May, he drew together an army of one hundred and twenty thousand men, with which be took the principal places in Flanders, and with a rapid fury overran the greatest part of the Netherlands. In the beginning of July he took possession of Utrecht, a city in the heart of the United Provinces, where he held his court, and threatened to besiege Amsterdam itself.
In this extremity the Dutch opened their sluices, and laid a great part of their country under water ; the populace rose, and having obliged the States to elect the young prince of Orange stadtholder, they fell upon the two brothers Cornelius and John de Wit, their late pensionary, and tore them to pieces in a barbarous manner. The young prince, who was then but twenty-two years old, used all imaginable vigilance and activity to save the remainder of his country; and like a true patriot, declared he would die in the last dyke, rather than become tributary to any foreign Vol. V.
power. At length their allies came to their assistance, when the young prince, like another Scipio, abandoning his own country, besieged, and took the important town of Bonne, which opened a passage for the Germans into Flanders, and struck such a surprize into the French, whose enemies were now behind them, that they abandoned all their conquests in Holland, except Maestritcht and Grave, with as much precipitance as they had made them.
These rapid conquests of the French opened peoples mouths against the court, and raised such discontents in England, that his majesty was obliged to issue out his proclamation, to suppress all unlawful and undutiful conversation, threatening, a severe prosecution of such who should spread false news, or intermeddle with affairs of state, or promote scandal against his majesty's counsellors, by their common discourse in coffee-houses, or places of public resort. He was obliged also to continue the Exchequer shut up, contrary to his royal promise, and to prorogue his parliament till next year, wbich he foresaw would be in a flame at their meeting.
During this interval of parliament, the declaration of indulgence continued in force, and the dissenters had rest; when the presbyterians and independents, to shew their agreement among themselves, as well as to support the doctrines of the reformation against the prevailing errors of popery, socinianism, and infidelity, set up a weekly lecture at Pinner's-hall, in Broad-street, on Tuesday mornings, under the encouragement of the principal merchants and tradesmen of their persuasion in the city. Four presbyterians were joined by two independents to preach by turns, and, to give it the greater reputation, the principal ministers for learning and popularity were chosen as lecturers ; as Dr. Bates, Dr. Manton, Dr. Owen, Mr. Baxter, Mr. Collins, Jenkins, Mead, and afterwards Mr. Alsop, Howe, Cole, and others; and though there were some little mis. understandings at their first setting out, about some high points of Calvinism, occasioned by one of Mr. Baxter's first sermons, yet the lecture continued in this form till the year 1695, when it split upon the same rock, occasioned by the reprinting Dr. Crisp's works. The four presbyterians removed to Salter's-hall, and set up a lecture on the