« PreviousContinue »
ferred, so that it was quickly visible that the laudable desigus of the king and the ecclesiastical commissioners would prove abortive.
However, the committee continued their work till they had finished it; they had before them all the exceptions that either the puritans before the war, or the non-conformists since the restoration, had made to the church service.* They had also many propositions and advices that had been suggested at several times, by many of our bishops and divines upon those heads; matters were well considered, and freely and calmly debated, and all was digested into an entire correction, of every thing that seemed liable to any just exception. Dr. Nichols says, they began with reviewing the liturgy, and first in examining the calendar; they or. dered, in the room of the apocryphal lessons, certain chapters of canonical scripture to be read, that were more to the people's advantage; Athanasius's creed being disliked, by reason of the damnatory clauses, it was left to the minister's choice to use it, or change it for the apostles' creedot New collects were drawn up, nuore agreeable to the epis. tles and gospels, for the whole course of the year, with that elegance and brightness of expression, (says the doctor) and such a flame of devotion, that nothing could more af. fect and excite the hearts of the hearers, and raise up
their minds towards God; they were first prepared by Dr. Patrick ; Dr. Burpet added to them farther force and spirit; Dr. Stillingflect afterwards examined them with great judg. ment, carefully weighing every word in them; and Dr. Tillotson had the last hand, giving them some free and masterly strokes of his sweet and flowing eloquence. Dr. Kidder made a new version of the psalms, more agreeable to the original. Dr. Tennison made a collection of the words and expressions throughout the liturgy which had been excepted against, and proposed others in their room that were clear and plain, and less liable to exceptionsinging in cathedrals was to be laid aside the apocryphal lessons were to be omitted, together with the legendary saints' days--the cross in baptism to be left to the choice of the parent and kneeling at the sacrament to be indiffent the intention of lent fasts was declared to consist only Burnet, p. 44.
† Apparatus, p. 95, 96.
in extraordinary acts of devotion, not in distinction of ments -the word priest was to be changed for minister--the use of the surplice is left to the discretion of the bishop, who may dispense with it, or appoint another to read the service
godfathers and godmothers in baptism may be omitted if desired, and children presented in their parents' names--re-ordination of those who had been ordained by presbyters was to be only conditional but these, with some other useful alterations in the litany, communion-service, and canons, will not be known till the papers themselves are made public. However, these concessions and amendments would, in all probability, have brought in three parts in four of the dissenters.
While these things were debating in parliament, and among the commissioners, an address was presented, April 19, praying, that according to the ancient custom and usage of the kingdom in time of parliament, his majesty would issue out his writ for calling a convocation of the clergy to be advised with in ecclesiastical matters, assuring his maj. esty, that it was their intention forthwith to proceed to the consideration of giving ease to the protestant dissenters; but when they met, it quickly appeared, that the high church party were superior to the moderate, by their choosing Dr. Jane, * who drew up the Oxford decree, prolocntor, in preference of Dr. Tillotson. His majesty sent a
|| Calamny's Abridgment, vol. i. p. 452, 464. See also Birch's Life of Tillotson, p. 182, 196.
* The election of Dr. Jane to be prolocator, as it shevred the senti. ments and spirit of a great majority, so it was the principal occasion that nothing succeeded. For as soon as he got into the chair, he ad. dressed the lower house in a speech, which, besides extolling the church of England above all other christian communities, he concluded with these words, “ Nolumus leges Anglice mutare ;" i. e. “We will not change the laws of England and in the progress of the session he opposed every thing, that was intended or proposed by the royal commission. Bishop Compton's Life, p. 52; and Life of Dr. Prideaux, p. 54. The conclusion of the prolocutor's speech, it is excellently observed in a late valuable publication, was “ to be admired from the mouth of an old English baron ; consistent, perhaps, with the declaration of a con. clave, it matters of faith and worship were in agitation there ; but ill suited, to the greatest degree, on such an occasion, to the character of a protestant divine.” Hinis, &c. by a Layman, p. 27, 4th edition. Ed.
+ It is disgraceful to human nature and painful to the generous mind that the most liberal and excellent designs are defeated by revenge, and
letter or message by the earl of Nottingham, assuring them of his constant favor and protection, and that he had summoned them, not only because it was usual upon holding parliaments, but out of a pious zeal to do every thing that might tend to the best establishment of the church of England, and desiring them to consider of such things as by his order should be laid before them, with a due and impartial zeal for the peace and good of the church. But there was No room for his majesty's interposition, the lower house of convocation quickly coming to a resolution not to enter in. to any debates with relation to alterations ; and it was not without difficulty carried to make a decent address to the king, thanking him for his promise of protection. And the address which the bisbops sent down, acknowledging the protection which the protestant religion in general, and the chureh of England in particular, had received from his majesty, the lower house would not agree to it, because it imported their owing some common union with the foreign churches.* They would thank bis majesty for his care to establish the church of England, whereby the interest of the protestant churches abroad would be better secured, but would not insert the words, this and all other protestant churches, as the bishop had desired.
The bishop of London, in his answer to the prolocutor's speech, told them, that they ought to endeavor a temper of disappointed ambition. This was the case in the affair before us. The election of Dr. Jane was effected by the intrigues of two noble lords, who, being disappointed in their expectation of advancement to some of the higher employments, after the revolution, on account of their relation to the queen, out of resentment contrived to have Dr. Jane called to the chair, that they might baffle what was intended by the convocation and so'embarrass government. He was also, on the like prinei. ples, a man fit for their purpose. For having been refused the see of Exeter, before promised to bishop Trelawney, which he asked when he was sent from the university of Oxford to make an offer of their plate to the prince of Orange, he was so disgusted, that he became a professed enemy to king William. Life of Dr. Prideaux, p. 54, 56. Ed. *This was the first foundation of the differences in the convocation, which have ever since been kept up, to the grief of pious minds, and to the disgrace of the clergy. For the inferior clergy not agreeing to this address, another address was drawn up and presented to the king by the bishop of London, six of his brethren, and several doctors in divinity: who were solemnly introduced to his majesty, sitting on his throne in the banquetibg-house, by the lord chamberlain. Bp. Compton's Life,p. 54, 55. Ed.
things not essential to religion ; and that it was their duty to shew the same indulgence and charity to the dissenters under king William, which some of the bishops and clergy had promised in their addresses to king James.† But all these promises (says bishop Barnet) were entirely for: gotten. It was in vain therefore, to refer the amendments of the ecclesiastical commissioners to a number of men, who had resolved to admit of no alterations ; and it is thought that if the act of toleration had been left to their decision, it would have miscarried. The king, observing such a want of temper, broke up the sessions; and seeing they were in no disposition to do good, they were kept from doing mischief by prorogations for a course of ten years.
This was the last fruitless attempts or a comprehension of dissenters within the establishment; and such was the
+ Bishop Compton closed his speech, which breathed a different spirit from that of Dr. Jane, with these words of Joseph to his brethren, u Ne multuamini in consiliis vestris ;" thereby exhorting them to unanimity and concord. Bishop Compton's Life, p. 53. Ed.
! It marks the mischief and the evil of the spirit of opposition, ibat amongst the other instances in which the design of holding this convocation miscarried, was the failure of an attempt to restore family devotion. For a book, containing directions and forms for family worship, was provided to be authorised by this convocation. It was left in the hands of Dr. Williams, bishop of Chichester, but has been since lost. Dr. Prideaux's Life p. 61, 65. Ed. SI am tempted to give here the reflections of an admirable piece, which report ascribes to a noble pen. “ The prolocutor's veto has hitherta proved triumphant; and we have too much reason to apprehend, that, on one pretence or other, these laws, binding the consciences of men, will become, in effect, as unalterable as those of the Medes and Persians ever were, though probably, in these days, few will venture to hold a doetrine so thoroughly repugnant to all religious liberty. Such, however, was the fate of this attempt to render the service of the estabKished church as pure as possible, and to clear away those parts, which, from that day to the present, continue to offend so many respectable and conscientious persons. Considering the character and abilities of those who undertook the task, it can never be sufficiently lamented that their endeavors proved so unsuccessful.” For archbishop Wake, speaking of them before the lords, while he was bishop of Lincoln, thus expresses himself: “'They were a set of men, than which this church was never, at any one time, blessed with either wiser or better, since it was a church ; and a design that I am persuaded, would have been for the interest and peace of our church and state, had it been accomplished." And when we find among them usmes whose memory we revere,
ungrateful return that these stabborn churchmen made to those who had assisted them in their distress! For it ought to stand upon record, that the church of England had been twice rescued from the most imminent danger by men for whose satisfaction they would not move a pin, nor abate a ceremony; first in the year 1660, when the presbyterians restored the king and constitation without making any terms for themselves; and now again at the revolution, when the church fled for succor to a presbyterian prince, and was delivered by an army of fourteen thousand Hollanders, of the same principles with the English dissenters; and how ancivilly those troops were afterwards used, is too ungrateful a piece of history to remember.
But besides the strong disposition of the high church clergy and their friends, to return to their allegiance to King James, there was another incident that sharpened their resentments against the king and the dissenters, which was his majesty's consenting to the abolition of episcopacy in Scotland, which could not be prevented without putting all his affairs into the utmost confuson ; the bias of that people'was strong to presbytery, and the more so, because the episcopal party went almost universally into King James's interests, so that the presbyterians were the only friends the king had in that kingdom.* There was a con. tention called in Scotland like that in England, who on the 11th of April, the day on which King William and Queen Mary were crowned in England, passed judgment of forfeiture on King James, and voted the crown of Scotland to King William and Queen Mary. They drew up a claim of rights, by one article of which it was declared, Compton, Lloyd, Burnet, among the bishops ; with Tillotson, Stillingfleet, Patrick, Sharp, Kidder, &c. among the others; it is clear, that posterity has confirmed the testimony of this learned and sagacious prelate, and regrets the more the loss of their beneficent intentions. “ Hints," &c. by a Layman, p. 27, 8, 9. To the names mentioned by this writer we would particularly add Dr. Humphrey Prideaux; as he was not only a great friend to the scheme then on foot for a comprehension with the dissenters, but published a piece in favor of that design, under the citle of “ A Letter to a Friend, relating to the present Convocation at Westminster;" which was highly applauded by moderato and candid men, and of which several thousands were sold within a fortnight after its publication. British Biography, vol. vii. p. 224-6. Ed.
* Burnet, vol. iv. p. 32 VOL. V.