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LAUD'S POLICY AND CRUELTIES.
CHARLES THE FIRST had succeeded to the practices as well as policy of his father, in governing the country by favourites rather than qualified statesmen. He raised to the highest places of power two who have become, the more they are known, and the more the truth is told concerning them, increasingly odious, as historical characters, in the opinion of Englishmen. I mean Sir Thomas Wentworth (the lion of the north) and Dr. Laud, ultimately archbishop of Canterbury. The lion of the north began his course, as a great patriot, a loud professor of liberal principles, and an advocate of the people's rights. But you will always find that men who start on their career of political ambition with such a character, and finally become renegades to their principles, are of all despots the most arbitrary and furious in their zeal against liberty. Earl Strafford rose to be the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, and might be called the right arm of strength and policy to Charles the First. No doubt he sought to enlist the Irish force to accomplish the royal pleasure in England. Laud rose from the humblest sphere of life. It was no discredit to him though he were a publican's, a brewer's, or a butcher's son; if by the honest application of talent it could be shown he had risen to the loftiest pinnacle of fame, and the most exalted station in society. It is the proud boast of England that an Englishman, if he be but virtuous and patriotic, and is placed in circumstances favourable for the adventure, may rise to any of the most exalted positions of an English subject. Laud, however, did
TAE MINISTERS OF CHARLES.
not merely rise, but he forgot the ladder on the steps of which he had mounted; he was not merely lifted up, but he forgot Joseph, who interpreted for him his dream ; he did not merely aspire and attain the proud reward of his ambition, but he hated the rock whence he was hewn, and the hole of the pit whence he was digged ; and he deserved to be turned back into it again. Laud was the left hand of Charles the First's policy; and no left hand could be more unpropitious or sinister in its operations than was Laud in his politics. By means of these two men did Charles the First
govern England, and not by his houses of parliament, higher or lower. And the one, as I have observed, employed himself in the exercise of
the other, I may say, in the exercise of superstition. I do believe that what you call, in these days, Puseyism, is an old thing. It is as old as Laud himself, at all events. He could cross himself, bow to the east; he could recognise crosses, and images, and candlesticks, and burning tapers, in the places of worship which he visited or consecrated, as
modern neophyte of Romanism. And more, he would not suffer others to occupy the places of pastor or teacher, unless they bowed to his crucifix, and wore his fool's cap. The consequence was, that a spirit of grievous--I was going to say--insubordination, but of disaffection, prevailed throughout the land. There was evident, on Laud's part, a design to enforce the rubric and liturgical services, with the prelatie offices of the church, on Scotland as well as England : and Charles the Second, in his subsequent career, did but develop the hidden policy that was determined upon in his father's reign, and which Laud had commenced, with the subtlety of a jesuit. Some of the good people that had been puritans thought they saw, in the policy adopted by these ministers of the crown, a determination to introduce popery into England; they were concerned about the
much as any
ark of their testimony and the church of their God. They were willing to suffer for it, but they grieved to think it should be laid waste.
There were clear-sighted men in the land, and tenacious Scots in their father-land of the north, who saw, and watched, and trembled at the rude hand of superstition which was about to invade the sanctuary of their religious liberties. Under the reign of James the First, and consequent upon it, a number of Scots had somehow insinuated themselves into England. I cannot tell how it is, but the Scotchmen will, either in their benevolence or affection, prove your most assiduous companions. Scotchmen come in multitudes to the south, but
few of us have permanently gone back again. A number of our presbyterian forefathers came from the cold and gelid regions of Caledonia to the genial and sunny regions of the south. Notwithstanding James thought“no bishop no king," there was that sort of inconsistency about him, which belongs almost to all Scotchmen; that we can be clannish to those of a different religion, if they happen to be countrymen. We forget everything else in that word. And as James, and others like him, who had political influence, countenanced the incursions of these enterprising Scots, who were ready to absorb the good things of England ; the presbyterian ministers, and others, who knew where the rich pastures were to be found, came south too. A good many came, doubtless, in order that they might do good. O yes! Generous and noble motives they had, though you cannot help remembering the good, carnal favours you had to return for their spiritual things. There is a sacrifice in leaving home, however homely and simple; and individuals there were, at the time of the movement towards the Reformation, who thought of other things than the liturgy, and the forms and the acts to which it has been supposed their whole attention was directed. In their inquiries, they looked towards Scotland to see
INDEPENDENCY SUPPLANTING PRESBYTERY.
what it was the Scotch did ; and how it was that religion had prospered there. Presbyterianism consequently prevailed among a number who were called puritans in England; and the puritan presbyterians, though no longer episcopalian in ecclesiastical polity, were still addicted to the principle of a church establishment, and held the duty of the sovereign to be the nursing-father of the church.
The presbyterians were, for the most part, determined to maintain not only the propriety and truth of their principles, but the justice of their establishment, and contended that they should constitute the endowed church in England, as they did in Scotland. One of the circumstances that ave them greater influence than even their neighbours, was this, the Scotch had already suffered under the rule of the Stuarts.
There were also churchmen in England, in the strict sense of the word, not episcopalians or even presbyterians in church government. But there were native puritans in the country, who went a step further; and it is interesting to trace the progress of the inquisitive mind of those times. There are some of my presbyterian friends who cast John Owen in the teeth of the congregational polemic, and tell us that he was a presbyterian. I admit it, at a certain stage of his life; but then he was only going on to perfection. He had made a step in the right direction; he had not come so far as modern independents have attained; therefore he was not already perfect. There were among the puritans some who went a little further than Owen did ; and who were strictly designated independents. Because of the extravagance of Brown, professedly one of them, it became the fashion of the day to brand those who were reputed independents with the term Brownists. He went back to the church; and ended his days, though in a dungeon, under the canopy of episcopacy; with as much eccentricity as he had exhibited when he begun them; and we do not presume to identify our principles with the man. We say, independency is much older than the Stuart dynasty or the puritans. We, professedly primitive independents, find it in the first century of the Christian era, and in the Bible the Christian's charter. We may be mistaken, but you will not quarrel with me for saying, we think so.
The Brownists, however, were not the only independents. Nor were the independents the only persons who held what we are about to explain—liberty of conscience. There were, I think, about sixteen churches of the baptist persuasion that had formed themselves into a London association ; and they put forth some declaration on the subject of liberty of conscience, alike creditable to themselves and honourable to the truth of the religion which they supported. One of their antagonists charges them with the act, as if it were a crime, of baptising hundreds of men and women together in the twilight, in rivulets; as boasting they had forty-seven churches, and that they maintained “ that it is the will and command of God, that since the coming of his Son, the Lord Jesus, a permission of the most pagan, Jewish, Turkish, or antiChristian consciences and worships be granted to all men, in all nations and countries; that civil states, with their officers of justice, are not governors or defenders of the spiritual and Christian state and worship; that the doctrine of persecution, in case of conscience, is guilty of all the blood of the souls crying for vengeance under the altar.” The baptists, however, or as they were called, anabaptists, had some sort of obloquy thrown upon them by the Mennonites, or Munster baptists, of the period of the Reformation; and the baptists of England were not treated with such a measure of forbearance even as was meted out to the other sects. Perhaps, therefore, they felt where the shoe pinched, and cried out more liberally about liberty of conscience, from the oppressions they