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Attempt to establish Conformity in Scotland.
“ His spirit in him strove
To cleanse and set in beauty free
He endeavored to produce uniformity in the performance of the service, and where greater interests were not sacrificed in the attempt, his efforts surely were praiseworthy. The practice (which prevails to this day in the Church of England) was again revived, of requiring a title from candidates before receiving Holy Orders, in other words, that they should not be ordained without some specific appointinent in the Church, which would ensure them a maintenance. This salutary rule gradually removed from the Church those who could not provide a regular support, and, (to use the words of Heylin,), “from henceforth we hear but little of such vagrant ministers, and trencher-chaplains, (the old brood being once worn out,) as had heretofore pestered and annoyed the Church.”+ Of literature, too, he was ever the generous patron, and the University of Oxford shared most largely in his liberality. I
Thus his life passed on, possessing indeed extensive power, yet at the same time learning the sorrows and perils of greatness, and discovering but too truly, that a mitre may sometimes cover an aching brow. In 1633 he was summoned to attend the king in his expedition into Scotland. Fifteen years before he had accompanied James in a similar journey, when that monarch in vain attempted to introduce conformity in religion into his Scottish dominions, and he was now doomed to see the same failure on the part of his ill-fated son. The spirit of opposition to the Southern Church, as it was called, was stern and unyielding; and any one not smitten with utter blindness to the signs of the times, would have hesitated to embark in an enterprise which bid fair to be so inauspicious. He must indeed have been laboring under a species of insanity, who at this period, looking at the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland, remembering their history, and seeing their violent prejudices, could have dreamed of forcing them all into a perfect uniformity,
* The Cathedral, by Rev. Isaac Williams. On this subject nothing can be more just than the view taken by Laud, as shown by a passage of his speech before the bar of the House of Lords.' " Ever since I came in place, I have labored nothing more than that the external public worship of God, so much slighted in divers parts of this kingdom, might be preserved, and that with as much decency and uniformity as might be. For I evidently saw that the public neglect of God's service in the outward face of it, and the nasty lying of many, places dedicated to that service, had almost cast a damp upon the true ani inward worship of God, which, while we live in the body, needs external helps, and all litlle enough to keep it in any vigor." + Heylin, p. 255.
Le Bas's Life, pp. 213, 214.
Yet here, as usual, Laud never paused. As Bishop Warburton well says, “ he and the king encouraged and inflamed one another in their ill-timed and indiscreet zeal.” The attempt was made, and its only effect was, to rouse up the elements which, ere long, were to burst forth into civil war. Bishops were appointed to the different sees, and, to the great indignation of the nobility, these prelates, (as in the old Romish days,) were invested with the highest civil offices of the kingdom. And thus the king left Scotland, followed by the suspicions and dislike of his northern subjects, whom he was to meet no more until they were arrayed in arms against him. Thus baneful in this instance were the counsels of Laud, when, according to custom, he listened only to the promptings of his own intemperate zeal.
The return to London beheld Laud elevated to the highest point of ecclesiastical greatness. Archbishop Abbot had just died, and he was nominated for his successor. Through his influence his old friend Dr. Juxon was selected to fill the vacancy in the diocese of London, and also apprinted lord treasurer of the kingdom.* As Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of all England, and a member of the Privy Council, Laud stood in importance next to the throne. Yet the years of his greatness were to be few, and even these, clouded as they were with sorrow, were to be the precursors of a fearful fall. The storm which for a long while had been slowly gathering, was now rapidly darkening the horizon, and as men gazed upon it," their hearts failed them for fear, and for looking after those things which were coming on the earth.” Deep was calling unto deep, and on every side were the signs of the gathering strife. The least discerning could perceive that the conflict between two great principles was drawing on, and that soon it would be brought to open issue. The two parties which divided the kingdom were assuming definite forms, and the names of cavalier and roundhead began to have a meaning and significance, which they will
* Clarendon describes the storm which was raised among the nobility by this appointment to a civil office, vol. i., p. 177. " The resentment of the nobility on this occasion,” adds Bishop Warburton," was surely most legitimate and reasonable."
Puritans not exclusively a religious Party.
never lose, as long as history lasts. In this strife, Laud for a time was an actor, and as it was against the latter of these parties that he acted, and by which he was at last, in the hour of its triumph, doomed to death, we intend to devote a page or two to a consideration of ils principles.
The name of Puritan is with many in this day, a term of scorn and reproach. It suggests to them nothing but the picture of a crop-eared, whining fanatic, - uncouth in his appearance - dealing mightily in the denunciations of the Old Testament - zealous even unto slaying - and professing to have “the praises of God in his mouth, and a twoedged sword in his hands." But whence are these views drawn? Nine out of ten, we may venture to say, form their estimate from Scott's novels. Yet we might as well take Wildrake in Woodstock to be a fair specimen of the cavaliers, or judge the tories of our revolution to be fitly represented by the cowboys. If, on the other hand, we resort to history, we find that the enemies of the Puritans have forestalled public opinion, by becoming the chroniclers of the times. The standard work of that age has been written by the grave and dignified Clarendon, from whose courtly prejudices they of course could expect no favor. The infidel Hume, too, hated them both for their religion and politics, and has omitted no opportunity of blackening their characters. Between the two, we wonder not that posterity finds it difficult to believe any thing good of them.
And yet, is it not a mistake to look upon them, as we often do, so entirely as a religious party? Their main object,
-at first, certainly-was political, not ecclesiastical change. Religion indeed mingled with it, and at last became prominent, because, in overturning the throne, they judged it necessary to crush the Church which was bound to it. Their leaders, too, found it useful to call in this kind of enthusiasm to elevate the feelings and zeal of their followers, yet it began not with this. Presbyterianism and liberty became accidentally united, yet they have no more necessary and direct connection in the English Revolution, than infidelity and liberty had in the French.
And here we may remark, that we commit the same error in the view we take of the whole English reformation. It was throughout more of a civil than an ecclesiastical change. We see a nation indeed renouncing the dominion of Romish superstition, and adopting a purer faith, and we have reason to thank God that it was so. Yet though the creed of a kingdom was thus purified, it was only because its rulers wished to use religion as the instrument in effecting other changes. Henry the Eighth, who commenced this mighty reform, cared not what were the religious tenets of the land, as long as they did not interfere with his gross licentiousness.* Had the pope consented to pronounce sentence of divorce against Queen Catherine, the king would have been his most dutiful son. But he refused, and then that worthy monarch found it necessary to disown his rule, and take the reins into his own hands. In Scott's novel, the Monastery, when Henry Warden is rebuking Julian Avenel for not marrying Catherine, the fierce baron in a couple of sentences tells the whole story of the English reformation. “Hark ye, Sir Gospeller! trow ye to have a fool in hand ? Know I not that your sect rose by bluff Harry Tudor, merely because ye aided him to change his Kate; and wherefore should I not use the same Christian liberty with mine ?”
Thus it was ihat England was severed from Rome. Even after it took place, the pope continued to commend Henry for his orthodoxy, while he anathematized him for rejecting his rule.t Heresy still, as of old, was prosecuted as a deadly crime. Except in one single point, the king lived and died as decided a Romanist in spirit as was his daughter Mary. It required, indeed, at that day, a nice tact at drawing theological distinctions, to keep one's head upon one's shoulders. A subject of Henry had the pleasure of living between Scylla and Charybdis. He must call himself 1842.]
* We are well aware, that in this reign reforms were nominally made by decrees of certain convocations, disclaiming some of the popish errors; as those of purgatory and indulgences in 1537 and 1513. Worship also before the images was directed to be offered, not to the image itself, but to God. (See Palmer on the Church, vol. i., p. 466.) Yet the whole spirit of the Church, during the reign of Henry VIII., was essentially and entirely popish. In proof of this, look at the Act of the Six Articles, (called " the whip with six strings,') the death-warrant of so many innocent men, whereby, first, the doctrine of transubstantiation was established by law; second, the communion in both kinds excluded; third, the marriage of priests forbidden; fourth, vows of celibacy declared obligatory; fifth, private masses for souls in purgatory upheld; and, sixth, auricular confession pronounced expedient, and necessary to be retained. These were set forth by authority in 1539. What a specimen of Protestantism! Yet many suffered death under these articles. Strype says, “all these articles were resolved by the Convocation the old popish way, and, by the Parliament that began in April 28, made an act, which was entitled, An Act for abolishing of Diversity of Opinions ; and, because of the rigorous penalties, and the blood that was shed thereupon, was called, The bloody Act of six Articles. — (Eccles. Mem., vol. i., p. 543.)
+ Fra Paolo, i., 82.
Hampden's Contest against Tyranny.
a protestant, yet be almost a papist. If he strained at any of the Romish creed except the doctrine of the Pope's supremacy, he was burned as a heretic. If unfortunately he by mistake took too large a dose, and swallowed the supremacy also, he was drawn and quartered as a traitor.
Under Elizabeth it was not much better. She rather inclined to the pomp and magnificence of the Romish worship, endeavored to retain the crucifix, pictures, and tapers in her chapel, and, during her reign, marriages took place among the clergy only by connivance.* In fact, we think she would scarcely have been a protestant, had not, as in her father's case, the fiery blood of the Tudors rebelled at the thought of submitting to foreign rule. In the brief reign of Edward alone - that meek and holy child - do we mark any serious purpose of looking at religious changes with a single eye. With him alone did the gospel seem to be more prominent than politics. We regard, therefore, all these events, as only furnishing a new example of God's overruling providence, “ in causing the wrath of man to praise him, and the remainder of it, restraining." He raised up holy men, to finish in purity what was commenced in passion. Their high example — the lesson which they taught of “ suffering affliction and patience” for the truth's sake - and the blood which they shed so freely in martyrdom, purified the Church, and from evil wrought out good for all coming time.
And so it was - to return to the Puritans — in ihe beginning of their resistance. They thought more of politics than of religion. The first generation of parliamentary leaders evidently wished only to limit the power of the crown. John Hampden was contending against civil tyranny, and when he made the first decisive move in that mighty contest, by refusing to pay ship-money, he certainly was evincing no opposition to the established Church. When Oliver St. John's gloomy face lighted up with a smile, as he said to Hyde, upon the dissolution of the parliament, that " it must be worse before it could be better,”+ we doubt whether he was thinking about the subject of episcopacy. And the same may be said of all their early generals. Fairfax espoused the popular side on account of a personal insult re
* Strype's Annals of Ref., 1., 260. + Clarendon, vol. i., p. 230.