Page images

he declared tliat though he was going to seek for foreign assistance, he would not make use of it to overthrow the established religion or the laws of his country. Thus ended the short and unhappy reign of James II, and with him the male line of the royal house of Stuarts, a race of princes raised up by providence to be the scourge of these nations, for they were all chargeable with tyranny and oppression, favorers of popery, and invaders of the legal constitution of their country in church and state. They enfeebled the nation by encouraging licentiousness of man. ners, and sunk a bold and brave people into contempt among foreign powers.

Nothing could have been more fortunate for the prince of Orange than the king's flight from Rochester to France, which furnished a plausible occasion for the convention parliament to pass a vote, that the king had abdicated the crown, and that the throne was vacant ; though it would have looked more like a voluntary desertion, if bis majesty had gone off the first time from Feversham, and had not declared in the paper he left behind him, that he was going to seek for foreign assistance ; it is certain the king was frightened away by his priests, who possessed him with an apprehension that he was already a prisoner; and by his queen, who prevailed with him to consult his own and family's safety, by leaving the kingdom for the present. Thus a great and powerful MONARCH was in a few weeks reduced to a condition little better than that of a wandering pilgrim.*

The prince of Orange arrived at St. James's, December 18, and on the 21st following, the bishop of London, with several of the clergy, and some dissenting ministers, waited upon his highness to congratulate him upon the happy success of his glorious expedition ; when bis lordship acquainted his highness, in the name of the clergy, that there were some of their dissenting brethren present, who were herein entirely of the same sentiments with themselves. t But on the 2d of January about ninety of the non-conformist ministers attended the prince at St. James's in a distinct body, being introduced by the earl of Devonshire, and the lords Wharton and Wiltshire; when the reverend * Burnet, p. 274.

† Calamy, p. 387.

Mr. Howe, in the name of the rest, assured his highness 6 of their grateful sense of his hazardous and heroical expedition, which the favor of heaven had made so surprisingly prosperous. That they esteemed it a common felicity, that the worthy patriots of the nobility and gentry of this kingdom had unanimously concurred with his highness's designs, by whose most prudent advice the administration of public affairs was devolved, in this difficult conjancture, into hands which the nation and the world knew to be apt for the greatest undertakings,and so suitable to the present exigency of our case. They promised their utmost endeavors, in their several stations, to promote the excellent and most desirable ends for which his highness had declared. They added their continual fervent prayers to the Almighty, for the preservation of his bighness's person, and the success of his future endeavors for the defence and propagation of the protestant interest throughout the christian world ; that they should all most willingly have chosen that time for the season of paying their duty to his highness, when the lord bisbop and the clergy of London attended his higbness for the same purpose, (which some of them did, and which his lordship was pleased condescendingly to make mention of to his highness) had their notice of that intended application been so early as to make their more general attendance possible at that time. Therefore, though they did now appear in a distinct company, it was not on a distinct account, but on tbat only which was common to them, and to all protestants; and though there were some of their brethren of eminent note, whom age or present infirmities hindered from coming with them, yet they concurred in the same grateful sense of their common deliverance.”+ His highness received them very favorably, and returned them the following answer : “ My great end was the preservation of the protestant religion ; and with the Almighty's assistance and permission, so to defend and support the same, as may give it strength and reputation throughout the world, sufficient to preserve it from the insults and oppression of its most implacable enemies; and that more immediately in these kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland ; and I will use my utmost endeavors,

+ Howe's Life, p. 142.

so to settle and cement all different persuasions of protestants in such a bond of love and community as may contibute to the lasting security and enjoyment of spirituals and temporals to all sincere professors of that holy religion.'

In order to settle the government, the prince published an order, desiring all persons who had 'served as knights, citizens, or bugesses, in any of the parliaments in the reign of King Charles II. to meet him at St. James's on Wednesday the 26th of December, at ten in the morning; and that the lord-mayor and court of aldermen of the city of London would be present, and fifty of the common-council.* This assembly desired the prince to take upon bimself the administration of the government for the present ; and a convention parliament was chosen with all expedi. tion, in which various methods were proposed of settling the government : some were for compromising matters with King James, and others for a regency; but after long and warm debates the throne was declared vacant, King James having abdicated the government, and broken the original contract with his people. When the question was put, whether to fill the throne with a king, or to appoint a regent, it was carried for the former ouly by two voices, fifty-one being for a king, and forty-nine for a regent, among which latter were twelve or thirteen bishops, two only (viz.) the bishops of London and Bristol, being for a king; the reason of which was their reluctance to contradict the doctrine they had been so long preaching, (viz.) that the regal power

was jure divino, and bis majesty's character indelible. They had indeed concurred in inviting the prince of Orange to come to the relief of their religion, but the storm being appeased, they thought it not incumbent on them wholly to depart from their old principles, and therelore voted for a regency; but the question being carried (says bishop Burnet) nature was so strong in them that it was too hard for their doctrine.t And a declaration being prepared for asserting and vindicating the ancient rights and liberties of the subject, the crown was offered to the Prince and Princess of Orange, the latter of whom arrived from Holland the day before ; and both having declared their acceptance, were proclaimed king and QUEEN * Gazette, No, 2414.

† Burnet, p. 282.

of England, &c. Feb. 13, 1688-9, and crowned at Westminster, April 11, following, amidst the joyful acclamations of all the friends of the protestant religion and liberties of their country.

Thus a wonderful revolution was effected with little or no effusion of blood; and it is surprising to reflect on the remarkable appearances of Divine Providence in the rise, progress, and consummation of this important event; how the court of England and the Roman catholic powers were all infatuated or asleep, while the design was forming; and when it was carrying into execution, how the winds were subservient, and the hearts of the people united till it was brought to maturity: and it will amaze all posterity to read the inconsistent and dishonorable part which the high church clergy and their friends acted on this occasion; for after they had preached their hereditary prince iato a belief of their unlimited loyalty, and assured them in numberless addresses, that their lives and fortunes were absolutely at his service; and after the university of Oxford, by a solemn decree, bad declared all manner of resistance damnable and infamous to the christian religion, tbey appeared among the first who resisted him; and by opening a reserve which lay hid under their unbonoded professions of duty and alleigance, let him fall into that pit out of which he could never escape. As soon as the jure divino king invaded the properties of the universities, and threatened to take down the fences of their ecelesiastical preferments, they invited the prince of Orange with an armed force to

The Scotch also, in 1689, sent up commissioners to their majesties at Whitehall to make a tender of their crown. On being introduced, they presented, according to the powers on which they acted, an address from the estates, the instrument of government, a recital of grievances, and a request that the convention might be converted into a parliament. The king having promised to concur with them in all just measures for the interest of the kingdom, the coronation oath was tendered to their majesties. His conduct on this occasion deserves particular notice: it was cautious and liberal. The oath contained a clause by which they should engage to root out heresy: the king demurred on this, and declared he would not oblige himself to act as a persecutor:

The commissioners replying that such was not the meaning or import of the oath, he desired them and others present, to bear witness to the e.rception he made. Burnet's History, vol. iv. p. 34, 12mo. and Lindsey's Historical View of the State of Unitarianisin, p. 303, note. Ed. Vol. V.


their rescue; they signed an association to support and assist him; they offered him their plate, and declared for him in a body, even while their sovereign was on the throne. Nevertheless, the moment they thought their power and preferments secure, they would have retracted, and made up matters again with king James, they opposed the motion in the convention parliament for declaring the throne vacant ; and when the government came to be settled upon king William and queen Mary, great numbers of them would not submit, and those who did, acted a treacherous and dishonorable part to their GREAT DELIVERER, throughout the course of this reign. What inconsistencies are these! What oaths and declarations can hold men who burst such bands, and cut such sacred cords asonder! The like must be observed as to their vows and promises to the non-conformists, all which were forgot or boken, as soon as the church was delivered. The dissenters acted a more consistent part, for not being entangled with the same fetters, they went heartily into the revolution, and were among king William's best and steadiest friends, when others forsook and opposed him.

No sooner were king William and queen Mary settled on the throne, than the dissenting ministers in and about the city of London waited on their majesties, with an address of congratulation, when Dr. Bates at their head made the two following speeches :

To the KING, 6 May it please your Majesty,

6 THE series of successful events which have attended your glorious enterprise for the saving these kingdoms from so imminent and destructive evils, has been 50 eminent and extraordinary, that it may force an acknowledgment of the Divine Providence from those who deny it, and cause admiration in all who believe and reverence it. The beauty and speed of this happy work are the bright signatures of his hand, who creates deliverance for his

people: the less of human power, the more of divine wisdom and goodness has been conspicuous in it. If the deliver ance had been obtained by fierce and bloody battles, victory itself had been dejected and sad, and our joy had been

« PreviousContinue »