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church of Rome, the church of England not pretending to infallibility, though she acted as if sbe did, by persecuting those who differed from her, as well protestant diswenters as papists; but he could see no reason why dissent: ers might not separate from the church of England, as well as the church of England, had done from that of Rome."
The princess answered the king's letter with great respect; she affirmed the right of private judgment, according to the apostle's rule, of proving all things, and holding fast that which is good. She saw clearly from the scriptures, that she must not beliere by the faith of another, but according as things appeared to herself. She confessed, if there was an infallibility in the church, all other controversies must fall before it, but that it was not yet agreed where it was lodged, whether in a pope or a general council or both ; and she desired to know in whom the infallibility rested when there were two or three popes at a time, acting one against another; for certainly the succession must then be disordered. She maintained the lawfulness and necessity of reading the holy scriptures ; for though faith was above reason, it proposed nothing contradictory to it. St. Paul ordered his epistles to be read in all the churches; and he says in one place, I write as to wise men, JUDGE YE WHAT I SAY; and if they might judge an apostle, much more any otber teacher. She excused the church of England's persecuting the dissenters in the best manner she could ; and said the reformers bad brought things to as great perfection as those corrupt ages were capable of; and she did not see how the church was to blame,because the laws were made by the state, and for civil crimes, and that the grounds of the dissenters leaving the church were different from those for which they had separated from the church of Rome." It was impossible for the princess to clear up this objection. But bishop Burnet* adds very justly, that the severities of the church against the dissenters were urged with a very ill grace, by one of the church of Rome, that has delighted berself so often by being as it were bathed with the blood of those they call heretics. Upon the whole it appeared, that her higiness was immovably fixed in her religion, and that there was not the least prospect of her departing from it.
* Page 156.
At the same time his majesty attempted the prince of Orange, for which purpose he employed one Mr. James Steward, a Scotch lawyer, who wrote several letters upon this argument to pensionary Fagel, in whom the prince placed an entire confidence.* The pensionary neglected his letters for some time, but at length it being industriously reported, that the silence of the prince was a tacit consent, the pensionary laid all his letters before bis bighness, who commissioned the pensionary to draw up such an answer as might discover his true intentions and sense of things.
The answer was dated from the Hague, Nov. 4, 1687, and begins with assurances of the prince and priucess's duty to the king; and since Mr. Steward had given bim to understand, that his letters were written with the king's knowledge and allowance,t the pensionary assures him, in the name of their higiINESSES, that it was their opinion, that " no christian ought to be persecuted for his conscience, or be ill used because he differs from the established religion ; and therefore they agreed that the papists in Scotland and Ireland should have the free exercise of their religion in private as they had in Holland ; and as to protestant dissenters, they heartily approved of their having an entire liberty of their religion without any trouble or hindrarce; and their highnesses were ready to concur to the settling it, and giving their guarantee to protect and defend it. If his majesty desired their concurrence in repealing the penal laws, they were ready to give it, provided the laws by which Roman-catholics were excluded from sitting in both houses of parliament, and from all employments ecclesiastical, civil, and military, remained in force; and likewise those other laws which secure the protestant religion against all attempts of the Roman-catholics ; but they could not consent to the repeal of those laws which tended only to secure the protestant religion, such as the tests, because they imported no more than a deprivation from public employments, which could do them no great harm. If the number of the papists were inconsiderable, it was not reasonable to insist upon it; and if those few that pretend to public employments would do their party so much injury * Burnet, p. 465, 6.
+ Welwood's Memoirs, p. 219.
as not to be content with the repeat of the penal laws, unless they could get into offices of trust, their ambition only was to be blamed."* This letter was carried by Mr. Steward to the king, and read in the cabinet council, but it had no effect, only the king ordered Mr. Steward to write back, that he would have all or nothing. However, the church party were satisfied with the prince's resolution to maintain the tests ; the protestant dissenters were pleased with their highnesses' declaration for the repeal of the penal laws so far as concerned themselves, and they placed an entire confidence in their word. The lay-papists and seculars pressed the king to accept of the repeal of so much of the penal laws as was offered, and blamed the ambition of the jesuits and courtiers, who, rather than abate any thing, would leave them exposed to the severity of the law when a freedom was offered. At length the pensionary's letter was printed by allowance of the prince, and dispersed over England, which provoked the king to such a degree, that he spoke indecently of his highness to all the foreign ministers, and resolved to shew him the severest marks of his displeasure.
The first project of gaining the prince having failed, his majesty went upon anotber, which, had it succeeded, must effectually have defeated the protestant succession ; and that was providing the nation with an heir of his own body by the present queen, though for many years she had been reckoned incapable of having children. This was first whispered among the courtiers, but was soon after confirmed by proclamation in the Gazette of Jan. 2d and 26th, 1687-8, in words to this effect, “ That it had pleased Almighty God to give bis majesty apparent hopes, and good assurance, of baving issue by his royal consort the queen, who through God's great goodness, was now with child;" I wherefore his majesty appoints, that on the 15th of January, in the cities of London and Westininster; and on the 29th in all other places of England; and on the 29th of January and 19th of February in all places in Scotland, public thanksgiving and solemn prayer be offered up to God on this occasion, and a form of prayer was drawn up accordingly by the bishops of Darbam, Rochester, * Burnet, p. 167.
Gạzette, No. 2309, and 2316.
and Peterborough ; in which were these expressions : 6 Blessed be that good Providence that has vouchsafed us fresh hopes of royal issue by our gracious queen Mary; strengthen her, we beseech thee, and perfect what thou hast begun. Command thy holy angels to watch over her eontinually, and defend her from all dangers and evil accidents, that what she hath conceived may be happily brought forth, to the joy of our sovereign lord the king, the further establishment of his crown, the happiness and welfare of the whole kingdom, and the glory of thy great name, &c.”* This struck all the protestant part of the nation with consternation, except a few ranting tories, whose religion was at the service of the king, whensoever he should call for it. The conception was looked upon by the jesuits as miraculous, and as the effect of a vow the queen had made to the lady of Loretto : they prophesied it would certainly be a prince ; while the protestants sighed in secret, and suspected a fraud ; the grounds of which suspicion the historians of these times have related at large.
The king, emboldened with the prospect of a popish successor, instead of venturing first upon a parliament, published another declaration for liberty of conscience, April 27, in higher strains, and more advantageous to the papists than the former ; the substance of it was as follows:
6 JAMES REX,
“OUR conduct has been such in all times as onght to have persuaded the world, that we are firm and constant to our resolutions ; yet, that easy people may not be abused by the malice of crafty wicked men, we think fit to declare, that our intentions are not changed since the 4th of April, 1687, when we issued our d claration for liberty of conscience in the following terms ;"'$ [Here the declaration is recited at large, and then it follows.] “Ever since we granted the indulgence, we have made it our care to see it preserved without distinction, as we are encouraged to do daily by multitudes of addresses, and many other assurances we receive from our subjects of all persuasions, as testimonies of their satisfaction and duty; the effects of
* Calamy's Abridgments, p. 382. Gazette, No. 2342.
which we doubt not but the next parliament will shew, and that it will not be in vain that we have resolved to use our utmost endeavors to establish liberty of conscience on such just and equal foundations as will render it unalterable, and secure to all people the free exercise of their religion for ever, by which future ages may reap the benefit of what is so undoubtedly for the general good of the whole kingdom. It is such a security we desire without the barthen and constraint of oaths and tests, which have unhap. pily been made by some governments, but could never support any. Nor could men be advanced by such means to offices and employments, which ought to be the reward of services, fidelity, and merit. We must conclude, that pot only good christians will join in this, but whoever is concerned for the wealth and power of the nation. It would, perhaps, prejudice some of our neighbors, who might lose part of those vast advantages they now enjoy, if liberty of conscience were settled in these kingdoms, which are above all others most capable of improvements, and of commanding the trade of the world. In pursuance of this great work we have been forced to make many changes both of civil and military officers throughout our dominions, not thinking any ought to be employed in our service who will not contribute towards the establishing the peace and greatness of their country, which we most earnestly desire, as unbiassed men may see by the whole conduct of our government, and by the condition of our fleet and of our armies, which, with good management, shall constantly bę the same, and greater, if the safety or honor of the nation require it. We recommend these considerations to all our subjects, and that they will reflect on their ease and happiness, now that above three years it bas pleased God to permit us to reign over these kingdoms, we have not ap. peared to be that prince our enemies would make the world afraid of; our chief aim having been not to be the oppressor, but father of our people, of which we can give no better evidenee, than by conjuring them to lay aside private animosities, as well as groundless jealousies, and to choose such members of parliament as may do their parts to finish what we have begun, for the advantage of the monarchy over which Almighty God has placed us, being resolved