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reason to believe, that Presbytery must hasten to make good its claim, and establish itself in the institutions of the country, or its opportunity would be lost. But, strong as it was in Parliament, it found itself unable to command a majority for extreme measures. “Cromwell and his party were no friends to the designs of conformity, but carried their business with . much privacy and subtilty.” As they were not ...” yet in a condition to assure themselves of success in a conflict, they avoided it by ostensible compliance. But with vigilance and skill they guarded against measures of a decisive kind; and, in so doing, they were able to profit by the aid of many of the Presbyterians themselves, whose purposes in politics predominated over their sectarian bias, and who, having helped in wresting from the King so many of his other prerogatives and investing them in the Parliament, were not disposed, in compliance with the wish of the Presbyterian divines, to transfer again from Parliament to an irresponsible religious tribunal the great royal prerogative of supremacy in the Church.” An Ordinance was passed, establishing is: Presbytery, with its gradation of parochial, sy- ** nodical, provincial, and national councils, as the Church of England. But when the Westminster Assembly claimed for that system the sanction of divine right, Parliament refused assent; and it disappointed the ambition of the clergy by determining, by law, the - - - - Oct. 20.
offences which might be visited with excommu- iod. nication, and by providing for appeals from the “ judgment of ecclesiastical courts.”
By the great body of Englishmen the system was not cordially received. It was promptly organized and set prosperously at work in the City and in Lancashire; but in other parts of the kingdom it was generally regarded with indifference where it was not regarded with dislike. Successive Ordinances “for the present settling (without further delay) of the Presbyterian Government in the Church of England;” “for the Ordination of Ministers by the Classical Presbyters within their respective bounds, for the several congrega
* Rushworth, Collections, VII. 141. 545, 649; VIII. 209; Journal of the * Hallam, 348; Fuller, III. 490. Commons, IV. 247, 475; comp. Rush. * Journal of the Lords, VII. 544, worth, WI. 224 – 228, 260, 261.
ise tions in the kingdom;” and “for the speedy
** dividing and settling of the several Counties of the kingdom into distinct Classical Presbyteries and Congregational Elderships,”—received less and less attention while a swift current of different interests was sweeping on. What remains to be told of the story of the Assembly will cost but a few words. The lofty pretension of its beginning was not justified by its achievements. Nominally it continued in existence till some years after the formal ruin of the monarchy. Besides a Directory for Public Worship, it adopted a Confession of Faith, and a Larger and a Smaller Catechism, - works which have exercised a vast influence on religious opinion among the later generations of the British race. But its ambition for political supremacy was frustrate. More and more, as time passed on, matters of greater practical interest than Presbyterian speculations and contrivances claimed the public attention; their friends out of Parliament cooled and fell away; their friends in Parliament were crippled by another force; and the venerable Assembly of Divines at Westminster was forgotten long before it ceased to keep up a show of action."
Impotence of the Westminster Assembly.
* A journal kept by Lightfoot of the Williams's Library, in Red-Cross Street,
proceedings of the Assembly has been published. It is said that another, kept by George Gillespie, is extant in MS. (Tayler, Religious Life of England, 133.) A third, which I have seen, – believed to have been made by Mr. Thomas Goodwin, – is in Dr.
London. It is in three manuscript volumes, and contains minutes of the ses— sions of the Assembly and of its Committees from August 4, 1643, to April 24, 1652, with some scattered entries extending to April 9, 1655, when a meeting was held at Sion College. A
From Wales, the King had stolen back again to Oxford, where the Parliamentary generals, unwilling to interrupt their operations for the settlement of the South The kins and the West, left him undisturbed through the ** winter, to muse, in the beautiful solitude of St. John's College, on the gloomy aspect of his fortunes. The spring came, and brought no better prospect. Montrose, his defeated champion in Scotland, had been driven no one knew whither. Glamorgan, his confidential agent in Ireland, had been detected in intrigues so vile, that the King thought it necessary falsely to deny that he had authorized them. Hoping to derive some ad- loss. vantage from the religious feud which divided "* his opponents, he made new proposals to treat; but Parliament refused to receive either himself or ico. commissioners from him, on the ground that "* hitherto he had availed himself of such opportunities for treachery and intrigue; and, when he twice repeated the offer, they made him no reply. There remained in his possession not a port on the western coast for the landing of reinforcements from Ireland. Fairfax's brigades were now at leisure, and were closing around his retreat. His five thousand men, though Oxford had been skilfully fortified, could not long hold out against them. With two companions he left the in moto, magnificent academical city at midnight, dis. ..." guised as a servant. He came to Harrow on the April 27. Hill, and looked down on London; but thence, either from irresolution, or because of disappointment as to the reception of intelligence, he turned back, and, at the end of a week, presented himself at the head-quarters of the Earl of Leven, near Newark, in Nottinghamshire, where then the Scottish army lay.
small portion is legibly written out. practised eye. The last approval of A large part is written in unmixed ministers which is recorded took place short-hand, and a still larger part in March 25, 1652. More than twelve short-hand mixed with hasty writing, hundred sessions were held of the Asequally without significance to the un- sembly and its committees.
It withdrew with him to Newcastle. He remained with it during the summer and autumn, served like a monarch, but guarded as a captive.' Neither the arguments of the Scottish clergymen, nor the offers of restoration to power held out to him by the Scottish statesmen and soldiers, could prevail with him to announce himself a Presbyterian. The English Parliament claimed the custody of his person. A sharp conflict of argument ensued as to the goodness of this pretension. At length, in fulm..... filment of a treaty in which the English stipu:* lated the immediate payment of arrears due to 1947. the auxiliaries which had come from the sister ** kingdom, the King was surrendered into the hands of Commissioners from the Parliament, who conducted him to his appointed place of confinement at Holdenby, in Northamptonshire. The King being no longer sovereign, it remained to be seen on whom the sovereignty devolved. The war being over, it appeared to Parliament that the nation was keeping up an army more costly than there remained occasion for; while many, in and out of Parliament, Presbyterians and others, observed with uneasiness that the army was strong, and that some of its commanders were ambitious. role. An Ordinance was passed for a reduction of the o: military establishment. But it was urged, on the army. other hand,- at least with great appearance of * truth, that a material reduction of the military force at this time would be followed by the restoration of the royal power, or by strenuous and sanguinary efforts to that end. At all events, the army had no mind to submit to a reduction which would at once divest it of power to enforce its claims, and leave the nation to the chances of that Presbyterian sway, which many of the active spirits utterly distrusted, for other reasons as well as for the apprehension that it would end in reinstating the King. The army made a demand that, previous to any disbanding of the forces, there should be a “settlement of the kingdom,” with sufficient guaranties for safety, and a provision for the arrears of pay. The latter condition involved an enormous outlay; for in order to obtain the highest degree of military aptitude and create an army such as that of the Parliament had now proved itself to be, the pay of the private soldier had been fixed at a rate beyond the average earnings of Englishmen. The war had lasted between four and five years, and it was alleged that the service of more than one year remained unrequited.
* The King's comfortless condition, Mr. John Brace for the Camden Sociwhile with the Scottish army, is pain- ety. The letters at the same time comfully portrayed in a series of letters plete the illustration of King Charles's written by him to the Queen in the utterly treacherous character. year 1646, and published in 1856 by
While this matter was pending, and Parliament was beginning to be taught its impotence, the surprising news came to Westminster that a party of five hun- m.s.l., dred cavalry, under one Joyce, had taken the :* King from Holdenby, and conducted him to the Parliament
- - - threatened.
army, which was now marching upon the capital. A panic seized the legislators. They disbanded some City levies which they had raised in the suddenness of their first alarm. They expunged from their journals an offensive resolve, in which they had denounced the fomenters of agitation in the army as “enemies to the state, and disturbers of the public peace;” they placed officers of the Independent party in command of the militia of London; and, under the form of granting a liberty of absence, the House of Commons, in compliance with a demand from the troops, expelled eleven Presbyterian members, two of whom were no less considerable persons than Hollis and Waller.
The Presbyterian spirit of the City revived, when the army, satisfied for the present with what it had done, withdrew to a distance of some forty miles. A mob of apprentices and others beset