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make known to some one or more of the next justices of peace, what place or places they set apart for such uses. And he is desirous to have the benefit of the service of all his subjects, which by the law of nature is inseparably annexed and inherent to his royal persoo. And that none of his subjects may be for the future under any discouragements or disability, who are otherwise well inclined, and fit to serve him, by reason of some oaths or tests, that have usually been administered upon such occasions, he hereby further declares, that it is his will and pleasure, that the oaths of supremacy and allegiance, and the several tests and declarations mentioned in the acts of parliament made in the 25th und 80th of his brother's reign, shall not here. after be required to be taken, declared, or subscribed by any persons whatsoever, who are or shall be employed in any office, or place of trust, either civil or military, under him or in his government. And it is bis intention from time to time hereafter to grant his royal dispensation to all liis subjects, so to be employed, who shall not take the said oatbs, or subscribe or declare the said tests or declarations. And he does hereby give his free and ample pardon to all nonconformist recusants, and other his subjects, for all crimes and things by them committed, or done contrary to the penal laws formerly made relating to religion, and the profession or exercise thereof. And although the freedom and assurance he has hereby given in relation to liberty and property might be sufficient to remove from the minds of his subjects all fears and jeaļousies in relation to either, yet be thinks fit to declare, that he will maintain them in all their properties and possessions, as well of church and abbey lands, as in other their estates and properties whatsoever."*
• The operation of this declaration extended beyond England or Seotland; for it proved beneficial to the people of New-England, whose religious liberties as well as their civil rights were near expiring: and who had been told by some in power, " They must not think to bave the privileges of Englishmen follow them to the ends of the earth: and they had no more privileges left them than to be bought and sold as slaves." Upon the liberty, which the declaration afforded them, Dr. Inerease Mather was deputed to take a voyage to England, with addresses of thanks to the king from various towns and churches ; though the measure was opposed by the rulers of the province. When
A declaration of the same nature was sent to Scotland, in which the king, “ by virtue of his prerogative royal, absolute authority and power over all his subjects, who are bound to obey him without reserve, repeals all the severe laws made by his grandfather king James I. and takes off all disabilities from his Roman catholic subjects, which rendered them incapable of employments and benefices. He also slackened the laws against moderate presbyterians, and promised never to force his subjects by any invincible necessity to change their religion. He also repealed all laws imposing tests on those who held any employments.”+
This was strange conduet (says bishop Burnet) in a Ro. man catholic monarch, at a time when his brother of France had just broken the edict of Nantz, and was dragooning his protestant subjects out of his kingdom. But the bishop snspects the king's sincerity in bis declaration, from his promising to use no invincible necessity to force his subjects to change their religion, as if there was a reserve, and that some degrees of compulsion might be proper one time or other; which seems to have been a parallel case to the doctrine of the church concerning non-resistance. However, by another proclamation, the king granted full liberty to the Scots presbyterians to set up conventicles in their own way, which they thankfully accepted; but when bis majesty pressed them to dispose their friends to concur with bim in taking off the test and penal laws, which they knew was only to serve the papists, they answered only in cold and general terms.
In pursuance of these declarations, the dissenters of all sorts were not only set at liberty, but admitted to serve in all offices of profit and trust. Nov. 6, the king sent an orhe presented them, he was graciously received, and was admitted to different and repeated audiences with the king, who, on receiving the addresses, said, “ You shall have magna charta for liberty of conseience:" and on its being intimated to him by two of his courtiers, at one of the audiences, that the favor shewn to New-England would have a good influence on the body of dissenters in England, his reply was, “He believed so, and it should be done.” Life of Dr. Inerease Mather, p. 37, &c. Ed. .
+ Eachard, p. 1083. Burnet, p. 136.
der to the lord-mayor of London to dispense with the quakers taking oaths,* or at least not to fine them if they refused to serve, by which means a door was open to the Ro. man catholics, and to all others, to bear offices in the state without a legal qualification. Several addresses were presented to the king upon this occasion from the companies in the city of London, from the corporations in the country, and even from the clergy themselves, thanking his majesty for his declaration for liberty of conscience, and his promise to support the church of England as by law established, assuring bim of their endeavors to choose such members for the next parliament as should give it a more legal sanction.
The several denominations of dissenters also were no less thankful for their liberty, and addressed his majesty in higher strains than some of their elder and more cautious ministers approved; Mr. Baxter, Mr. Stretton, and a great many others, refused to join in them; and bishop Burnet admits,s that few concurred in those addresses, and that the persons who presented them were mean and inconsiderable. When there was a general meeting of the minis
* Sewel informs us, that the king carried his condescension to the quakers so far, that a countryman of that persuasion came to him with his hat on his head, the king took off his own hat and held it under his arm: which the other seeing, said, “ The king needs not keep off his hat for me." To which his majesty replied, “ You do not know the custom here, for that requires that but one hat must be on here." Sewel's History, p. 609. Ed.
S Page 140, | Dr. Grey controverts the above assertions of bishop Burnet: he has given at length eight addresses from different bodies of dissenters, in different parts of the kingdom, as specimens of the courtly, not to say fulsome and Aattering strains, which they, on this occasion, adopted: and he refers to the gazettes of the times, as furnishing about seventy other compositions of the same kind ; in which this oppressed body, emancipated from their sufferings, fears, and dangers, poured forth the sentiments of loyalty and gratitude. Mr. Streilon, mentioned above, who had been ejected from Petworth in Sussex, and afterwards gathered a congregation in London, which assembled at Haberdashers'-Hall, was a ininister of great reputation and influence; an active and useful character. He made use of the liberty granted by the king's proclamation, but never did, nor would join in any address of thanks for it, lest he should seem to give countenance to the king's assuming a power above the law; and he was instrumental to prevent several addresses. Henry's Funeral Sermon for Stretton, p. 45. Grey's Examination, vol. iii. p. 410-116. Ed.
ters to consider of their behavior in this crisis, and two messengers from court waited to carry back the result of the debate, Mr. Howe delivered bis opinion against the dispensing power, and against every thing that might contribute assistance to the papists to enable them to subvert the protestant religion.* Another minister stood up, and de. clared, † that he apprehended their late sufferings had been occasioned more by their firm adherence to the constitution, than their differing from the establishment, and therefore if the king expected they should give up the constitution and declare for the dispensing power, he had rather, for his part, lose his liberty, and return to his former bondage. I In conclusion Mr. Howe, in summing up the whole debate, signified to the courtiers, thut they were in general of the same opinion. Mr. Coke adds, that to his knowledge the dissenters did both dread and detest the dispensing power ; and their steadiness in this crisis was a noble stand by a number of men who subsisted only by the royal favor, which ought not to have been so soon forgotten,
Though the court were a little disappointed in their ex. pectations from the dissenters, they put the best face they could on the affair, and received such addresses as were presented with bigh commendation. The first who went up were the London anabaptists, who say, that “the sense of this invaluable favor and benefit derived to us from your royal clemency, compel us to prostrate ourselves at your majesty's feet with the tender of our most humble thanks for that peace and liberty which both we, and all other dissenters from the national church, tow enjoy."|| Next came the presbyterians,* “ who acknowledge his
* Gazette, No. 2284. † This gentleman was Dr. Daniel Williams, who pursued the argument with such clearness and strength, that all present rejected the motion, and the court agents went away disappointed. There was a meeting at the same time of a considerable number of the city clergy, waiting the issue of their deliberations : who were greatly animated and encouraged by the bold aud patriotie resolution of the dissenting ministers. Life of Dr. Williams,preixed to his practical discourses,vol.i. p. 10. Ed. Howe's Life, p. 134.
Il Gazette, No. 2234. * This address had about thirty hands to it; it was presented by Mr. Hurst, Mr. Chester, Mr. Slatter, Mr. Cox, Mr, Roswell, Mr. Turner, VOL. V.
majesty's princely compassion in' rescuing them from their long sufferings, in restoring to God the empire over conscience, and publishing to the world his royal christian judgment, That conscience may not be forced ; and his resolution that such force should not be attempted in his reign, which they pray may be long.” Then followed the indea pendents: “Sir, The great calamity we have been a long time uuder, through the severe execution of the penal laws in matters of religion, has made us deeply sensible of your majesty's priucely clemency towards us your dissenting subjects, especially since in the indulgence vouchsafed there are no limitations hindering the enjoyment of it with a good conscience, and that your majesty publisheth to the world that it has been your constant sense and opinion, that conscience ought not to be constrained, nor people foreed in matters of mere religion.”+ About the same time was published the humble and thankful address of the London quakers,|| to this purpose, “ May it please tbe king ! Though we are not the first in this way, yet we bope we are not the least sensible of the great favors we are come to present the king our humble, open, and hearty thanks for. We rejoice to see the day that a king of England Mr. Franklin, Mr. Deal, and Mr. Reynolds. It is preserved at length, with the king's answer, in the Biographia Britannica: vol. i. article AL
It was supposed to have been drawn up by Mr. Alsop; whose feelings and gratitude, on the free pardon which the king had given to his son convicted of treasonable practices, may be reckoned to have had great influence in dictating and promoting it. After the spirited resoJution mentioned above had been carried, some of the ministers were privately closeted with king James, and some few received particular and personal favors : by these fascinating arts they were brought over. And their conduct had its weight in producing similar addresses from the country. Part of the king's answer deserves to be recorded as a monument of his insincerity, and a warning, that kings can degrade themselves by recourse to duplicity and falsehood. “ Gentlemen,” said James, " I protest before God, and I desire you to tell all manner of people, of all persuasions ;-that I have no other design than I have spoken of. And, gentlemen, I hope to live to see the day, when you shall as well have magna charta for the liberty of conscience, as you have had for your properties.” The ministers went away satisfied with the welcome which they had received from the pleasant countenances of the courtiers, and the courteous words, looks and behavior of his majesty.” Palmer's Non-conformists Memorial, vol. ii. p. 13. Ed. + Guzette, No. 2238.
# Sewel, p. 606.