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there at all. It is not by the breath of kings that we have our Bible. It is not subject to the pleasure of a monarch that we should circulate or translate the scriptures. And whether that monarch be a Solomon or a Solon, a James, an Elizabeth, or a Mary, I hold that the right of the people is to take the word of God for themselves, and follow it according to the dictates of their consciences.
The early Puritans were not allowed, good men as they were, to take possession of rich benefices; and I do not think there was one of them a favourite bishop. Indeed, if any one of them had applied, even to be a parish rector, in a populous city, he would have been refused. They were men who could not conform to certain rites, but still they did not go the length of setting up a system of their own. They wanted the magistrate to improve the system; they had not gone far enough. Their business was to improve it themselves; their business was to say,
Come, I will have a system of my own, according to the word of God; and if I should suffer for it, let me suffer—religion is worth suffering for; and life is the reward of suffering." But they contended that the monarch should improve the church. Why, the monarch has no more to do with the church than with your family; he has nothing more to do with your religion than he has with your trade : that is a matter for every man's conscience.
He might just as well tell you, you should not be a husband or a wife, a philosopher or a scholar, a wool comber, or a cotton spinner, as that you should not be an Independent, a Baptist, a Wesleyan, an Episcopalian, or, in short, anything else. They, however, inasmuch as they could not obtain benefices in the church, thought they might continue quietly in her communion, and wait for a better time. They did not long postpone the controversy.
In the reign of Elizabeth and James the First, the puritans increased : though Elizabeth exile, them, or burnt.
PURITAN DWELLING PLACES.
them, or put them to death in one way or another. The exiles in her time were many of them of the presbyterian persuasion, and betook themselves to Leyden, to various parts of Holland; to Switzerland, at Geneva, and Basil. They received much improvement, and acquired discriminating habits from their occasional instructions, and the experience they gained in their places of exile. Others did not leave the country, but took their position in sheltered localities on the coast; as it were among the eagles' cliffs, from which they could see and signal the ships or boats to which they might betake themselves in time of danger. Suffolk and Norfolk, and the seaboard reaching towards Northumberland, contained a large number of the original puritan ministers of England. Their churches, then and there settled, continue the memorials and monuments of the good men that laboured and suffered at that time.
James the First was a great oppressor of the puritans : but he suggested, rather than decreed, that they should emigrate into the province which queen Elizabeth wished to have peopled and colonised. He tempted them to go into exile, and drew up a plan of colonisation for the province of Ulster in Ireland; many puritans of England, and presbyterians of Scotland, were induced to take possession of various parts of the province of Ulster. It was not that he wanted to give them liberty of conscience; but he found he could not prevent them taking a certain degree of it; and thought they had better exercise it at a distance. They liked liberty of conscience anywhere; but oh! they would have desired it in their native land rather; and although some of them were induced to accept property in the colonies of Ireland, many of them longed for their fathers' homes, and the associations of kindred in England; and hoped they would return again with a little more power, and should yet be able to secure liberty of conscience.
Some neither went into exile, nor occupied places in the ministry. Who were they? They became quietly the secular teachers of the people. Some of them occupied the professor's chair. Some became popular instructors. Some, and a good many, became domestic tutors in noblemen's and gentlemen's families; and they were not always required to conform in every thing, in these private associations, seminaries or occupations, to the outward rubric or formularies of the church ; especially the objectionable parts. But they felt themselves excluded from the preferments of the church. An injustice was inflicted on them, while they were compelled to abstain from things they thought right, and they felt and naturally resented the stigmas. What plan did they follow? They did not teach the child A, B, C, only. They did not teach their pupil merely that two and two make four. They did not only impart to the youth under their charge the first principles of the elements of Euclid, nor yet confine their representations to the histories written by monks, and the legends and superstitions of the dark ages. But they taught “the young idea how to shoot.” They expanded the minds of their pupils. They took the exempli gratia, the illustration of their own case, and showed how men were suffering under oppression, and priestcraft; encroaching prerogative and domination--the domination of the church- because they were not allowed to think for themselves. This is one of the most interesting and instructive facts in connection with the times. These Puritans, when they could not occupy, because of royal despotism, because of priestly authority, places of trust in the church, betook themselves to literary employments. They were the companions of young noblemen. They were the professors of the universities. Quietly they pursued their literary engagements, without interfering with what seemed to be the rites of the church. But were they
idle ? Did their consciences suffer them to be idle ? They were mining and undermining-they were sapping the foundations of the system under which they themselves were suffering—they were laying the long train of thought, of reasoning, of independence of mind, which ultimately blew up the whole battlements of despotism, and cleared the ditch and the fosse for a highway for liberty's triumphal entrance. Before the royal oppressor —the mistaken ruler ;-before the dark, and besotted, and superstitious priesthood were aware, the mine exploded, the walls were blown up, the citadel was taken, and the proclamation went forth to the children of men that they were free to think for themselves according to the truth.
Our puritan forefathers, in their earliest struggles and sufferings, were not matured philosophers or perfect politicians. Their consciences were first, perhaps, offended by the mint and cummin of priestly imposition and royal prerogative. But they were soon taught to discriminate the weightier matters of sacerdotal domination and monarchical usurpation. The sarcasm of a taunting adversary may have the appearance of fitness in relation to some disputes. Hume, with the sneer of malignity, remarks, “ some men of the greatest parts and most extensive knowledge that the nation at this time produced, could not enjoy any peace of mind, because obliged to hear prayers offered up to the Divinity by a priest covered with a white linen vestment.” Nevertheless he confesses “the prevalence of the principles of civil liberty was essential to their party.” They felt the necessity of liberty for minor matters, and soon perceived its value in application to greater things; to establish it in attaining the less important, rendered its denial impossible in things vitally affecting religion and the state. At first some attempted to secure conformity by deputy-holding the living; while a more complying vicar administered ordinances in their room. But gradually a bolder courage and more decision were acquired. A Nash, a Drewet, and others, like Cartwright, were shut up in London prisons, and the less honoured were doomed to silence, forbidden to assemble in private, to mourn over either their own or the nation's sins, by the penalties of incarceration. This drove the more exasperated to controversial disputation and polemical strife: rhymes, ballads, letters, and books began to multiply, and the violence of the dominant party only drove the sufferers to more desperate expedients. Larger and more expansive principles were cherished and exercised; instead of submission, supplication to men, and flattering titles to oppressors.
Multitudes were led to separation, and to denounce the established system, its ministers, devotions and ceremonies, as unchristian and injurious. A few Baptist churches had been formed, anda few Independent churches sprung into being at this time. A very few indeed; and the leaders of them were not men of much popular and political influence; but one among them called Robert Brown, took a conspicuous part in the agitation ; and his name gave denomination to a portion of the puritans, hence called Brownists. His adherents were not the only or earliest Congregational Independents in England. But such were the men that thought they should take the Bible only as their guide, and should follow out religious opinion as they traced it in inspired record; that every congregation should have its own government; that they should adopt that form of worship which they found recognised in the scriptures ; that they all should be amenable only to God; and that their communion with one another should be that of brotherly love and of Christian fellowship. These were a few, and a very few indeed, of the Puritans—the Puritans that were the most learned—and you will find some of them
The infidel may sneer at them-read