state, and of those who preferred the devices of human invention to the purity of the gospel. In the execution of her purposes, the most of the prelates afforded their cordial cooperation. Attired in the gaudy decorations of Rome, the church appeared more pleasing to the Queen, than when arrayed in the simplicity that is in Christ. It is the opinion of most historians that had it not been for the persevering remonstrances of her secretary Cecil, she would have enjoined celibacy on her clergy. The sufferings of the deprived clergy, in their families, never excited her compassion, or preduced any concessions in their favor.

After long exertions under the most painful discouragements, after enduring accumulated sufferings, finding every effort which had been made wholly abortive, seeing no prospect of a reformation of the church in conformity to their wishes, a number of the Puritans, in the year 1566, after solemn consultation and prayer, looking to heaven for divine guidance, resolved "to break off from the public churches, and to assemble, as they had opportunity, in private houses or elsewhere to worship God in a manner that might not offend against the light of their consciences."-To this Mr. Neal adds, "Had the use of habits and a few ceremonies been left discretionary, both ministers and people had been easy; but it was the compelling of these things by law, (as they told the Archbishop,) that made them separate."

We will now mention the particular grounds of this separation. The Puritans generally disliked the Hierarchy of the English Church. They believed the scriptural mode of church government was Presbyterian. As they disliked Episcopal government, still less did they approve of the numerous offices and the various degrees of dignity which existed in the established church. They complained of the power of spiritual courts, of the want of proper discipline in the church, and of the numerous festivals which were enjoined. They did not approve a confinement to forms of prayer, and several things in the services of the Liturgy, especially in the burial and marriage services, they maintained to be particularly exceptionable. Had they been indulged with some discretionary liberty, it is probable that, for these things, they would not have separated from the church. The rites and ceremonies, which under existing circumstances, the Puritans supposed to be wrong, which were acknowledged by the imposers to be indifferent, being enforced under the pains and penalties of law, constituted the breaking point. The principal of these were. 1. The sign of the cress in baptism. 2. The use of godfathers and godmothers, to the exclusion of

parents, in the dedication of children. 3. The confirmation of children. 4. Kneeling, at the sacrament of the Lord's supper. 5. Bowing at the name of Jesus. 6. The ring in marriage. 7. Wearing the surplice and other appointed vestments in public ministrations. The Puritans contended that the most of these rites were the appendages of Popery, and as such had been used for the purposes of superstition and idolatry. That their use was countenancing those corrup tions, and therefore criminal. They referred to the case of the Brazen Serpent which was set up by Moses. Being abused to idolatrous purposes in the times of Hezekiah, that good king caused it to be destroyed. All these institutions of the church, the Puritans contended, were unauthorized by Scripture, that some of them were clearly inconsistent with the divine word, and a manifest violation of the ordinances of God. Their adversaries maintained that these ordinances were merely not unseriptural, that the church, by the national sovereign as head of the church, had a right to ordain such institutions, and, being thus appointed, it was the solemn duty of all to render obedience.

It does not appear that, at this time, the true principles of religious liberty were understood by either party. Both parties maintained that the national church had a right to ordain articles of faith, and appoint the general modes of ecclesiastical discipline and divine worship. The Puritans contended that this power belonged to ecclesiastical Conventions and Synods; their opponents maintained that the right was vested in the civil government. The Puritans held that in things indifferent, liberty of conscience should be allowed. The others believed that these things ought to be regulated by public appointment. Both parties would have the aid of the civil power to enforce their ecclesiastical regulations.

Archbishop Parker died in the year 1595. He was suceeeded in the see of Canterbury by Archbishop Grindal. Unlike his predecessor, he was a man of moderate temper, of a charitable disposition, and by many supposed to be, secretly, a favorer of the Puritans. During his primacy, the laws against non-conformity were executed with much less rigour than in the preceding years. On account of this lenity he incurred the displeasure of the Queen, and was, for some time, sequestered from his episcopate, till he made his submission. Still the Puritans, in a greater or less degree, were constantly oppressed..

Dr. Grindal died in 1583, and was succeeded by Archbishop Whitgift, a man of very different character. His temper, naturally severe, inclined to arbitrary principles, had been

highly excited against the Puritans, by a long controversy which had been carried on in writing between him and Mr. Cartwright the great champion of the Puritans, in which Dr. Whitgift had no advantage of his antagonist, in learing or argument. He was now prepared to use other means to produce conformity. In his elevated station he could so far forget the dictates of ingenuousness, as to persecute Mr. Cartwright, so that he was obliged to fly beyond sea for safety.

It was soon perceived that in the hands of Archbishop Whitgift the whole rigour of the laws would be executed against the non-conformists. At his request, the High-Commission court was newly organized by the Queen, with more extensive and more arbitrary powers than it had previously possessed. Of this court, at this time, Mr. Hume observes, "The jurisdiction of the court extended over the whole kingdom, and over all orders of men; and every circumstance of its authority, and all its methods of proceeding, were contrary to the clearest principles of natural equity. They were directed to make enquiry, not only by the legal means of juries and witnesses, but by all other means and ways which they could devise. And the punishments which they might inflict, were according to their wisdom, conscience and discretion. In a word, this court was a real inquisition; attended with all the iniquities as well as cruelties, inseparable from that tribunal." While Archbishop Whitgift presided in this court, it seldom neglected to exercise its powers. In his first visitation of his archiepiscopal district, the archbishop caused two hundred and thirty-three ministers to be suspended from their ministerial functions, for not subscribing certain articles of conformity which he prescribed. The non conforming clergy were summoned before the High-Commission, in great numbers, and were suspended, deprived, fined and imprisoned. A great number of churches were shut up, thousands were hungering for gospel instruction; according to a statement made in Parliament, there were not more than 3000 licensed preachers to supply 9000 parishes. The numerous suspensions of the clergy, with the severe sufferings of many most worthy men, some of whom died in prison, and others under the hard pressure of their afflictions, together with the high-handed proceedings of the ecclesiastical courts, produced loud complaints in the nation, which at length reached the ears of Parliament and the Queen's Council. Several members of the administration endeavored to soften the Archbishop in favor of some of the deprived ministers. But confident of the secret ap

probation of the Queen, he was inflexible. Various and repeated attempts were made in Parliament, to make some further progress in the reformation of religion, to modify the laws in favor of conscientious non-conformists, to reduce the powers of the court of High-Commission, or at least to make some provision for the supply of the destitute people with a preached gospel. Several bills for these purposes were introduced in the Commons, enforced by the most moving petitions, and some of them passed that house. The Queen firmly resisted all these attempts. She informed the Commons that the management of the interests of religion belonged to herself, that upon this subject her mind was fixed, that she would suffer no innovations, that in these transactions the Commons had transgressed their proper bounds, that they deserved a severe reprimand, and she ordered the Speaker to suffer no more bills of that nature to be read before the house. Some of the members for their bold speeches on these bills, were committed to the Tower. Petitions of various kinds, supported by the best authority, were presented to Parliament, to the Queen's Council, to the Archbishop, but they were of no avail. The press was restrained, no books were allowed to be published, under severe penalties, without a license from the Archbishop of Canterbury, or the Bishop of London.

The Puritans held meetings for preaching and the administration of the sacraments, and religious worship, in private places, wherever they could avoid public notice. Some of these meetings were called Prophecyings, much like our conferences. Archbishop Grindal incurred the displeasure of his Mistress for not putting a stop to these prophesyings.Under Archbishop Whitgift, they were all suppressed, whereever they could be found.


In the early part of this reign, the observation of the Sabbath was greatly neglected. About the year 1585, the Parliament passed a bill for the better and more reverent observation of the Sabbath, This was rejected by the Queen.But the religious observation of the sabbath grew into esteem with all sober persons, and after a few years became the distinguishing mark of a Puritan."* Towards the close of Elizabeth's reign, the doctrine of the morality of the sabbath was publicly maintained. "All the Puritans fell in with this doetrine, and distinguished themselves by spending that part of sacred time in public, family, and private acts of devotion. But the governing clergy exclaimed against it, as a restraint of Christian liberty; as putting an unequal lustre

* Neal.

[ocr errors]

on the Sunday, and tending to eclipse the authority of the church in appointing other jestivals."* During the reign of Popery, the sabbath had been reduced to a level with their superstitious festivals.

At the time of the first separation of the Puritans from the established church, there appears to have been no difference of sentiment on the subject of doctrines. In the latter part of the reign of Elizabeth, the doctrines of Arminius were broached and began to prevail. Some of the episcopal divines embraced those sentiments and would insinuate that they were consistent with their Articles of faith. Says Mr. Neal, "All the Puritans to a man maintained the articles of the church to be Calvinistical, and inconsistent with any other interpretation, and so did far the greatest number of the conforming clergy; but as the new explications of Arminius grew into repute, the Calvinists were reckoned oldfashioned divines, and at length branded with the character of DOCTRINAL PURITAN S.

The measures of severity with which they were oppressed, do not appear to have diminished the number of the Puritans. Though they constantly endured various kinds of suffering, they were steadfast in the maintenance of truth, committing their cause to God. They established some ecclesiastical regulations among themselves, as far as their depressed state would permit, principally on the model of the church of Geneva, which had been the model of the church of Scotland. The suspensions and deprivations of this long reign are said to have amounted to several thousands. Of the ministers who were thus deprived of their public office, some fled into other countries, some betook themselves to other employments, many of them continued to preach the gospel whenever they could have opportunity, and to testify against the errors and corruptions of the times. The greater part of them were reduced to poverty, and wandered about, destitute, afflicted, tormented.-Con. Evan. Magazine. (To be Continued.)





THE word infants, which is used by writers in different senses, will be limited, in this paper, to those of the human race, who have been newly born, and who are not subjects of moral instruction. In this state is always to be found a considerable proportion of the inhabitants of the earth. Such are no less liable than others to be arrested by disease and

« ElőzőTovább »