Gambar halaman

terianism, and protested, in the genuine spirit of fanaticism, against the toleration of " sectaries.” The inflammatory

them, (though in their Confession of faith and doctrine they wholly agreed with the Presbyterian,) held out a liberty of conscience to all other

sects in the profession of their faith and exercise of their religion. This inclination of the army to the Independents, made the Presbyterians, who were the major part of the Parliament, very watchful over their actions, and observing that the army at their courts of war laid hold on all pretences of scandals and crimes to disband and casbier Presbyterians, that Independents might be put in their places, resolved to disband all of them except five thousand horse, a thousand dragoons, and five companies of fire-locks, for which they wanted not a good pretence, that the people might be eased thereby of a great part of the taxes imposed upon them for their maintenance, and that some of them might be sent into Ireland, where there was a want of English soldiers. And for this purpose, they, borrowed two hun-, dred thousand pounds of the city of London. The head quarters of the army was at St. Edmunds-bury in Suffolk, when these matters were debated in Parliament ; but, by the intelligence they kept at Westminster, vothing thereof was concealed from them, and by the Independent party in the House (as it was commonly said) they were so practised on, that they were resolved not to disband ; yet when something of this was suggested in the House of of Commons, Cromwell with his band upou his breast said, “In the presence . of God before whom he stood, that he knew the army would disband and lay down their arms at their doors whensoever they should command them.' Upon this assertion, orders of both Houses for disbanding were sent to the army, with instructions for determining the accompts of the soldiers ; but instead of obedience to these orders, à council of officers, met at St. Edmunds-bury to consider thereof, began to debate of the matter with much dissatisfaction, and two soldiers out of each of sixteen regiments of horse and foot, as agitators or agents of their respective regiments, were allowed to meet also in a kind of council on the same business, and both of these assemblies agreed upon the same things in substance, namely, against disbanding; and in a petition to the general, they desired the army might be speedily drawn to a rendezvous, and that he would use his utmost to endeavour that it be pot disbanded till public grievances should be redressed, and all such persons called to account who had been intenders, contrivers, or promoters of their destructions, for so they termed those of the Parliament that voted them to be disbanded. These requests of the officers and soldiers produced a general rendezvous of the army at Newmarket on the fourth of June, and the agitators the day before privately sent Cornet Joyce with a party of soldiers to seize on the King ”PHILLIPS's Continuation of Baker.

This extract is illustrative of the statement in page 351; and contains shrewd reasons why Dr. Owen, avd other Independent ministers, entered into the tolerant views of the republican statesmen. The different scattered memorialswhich we have of those

transactions, and especiallyof the proceedings of the Assembly of Divines, inform us, that liberal sentiments among the Calvinists concerning religious toleration were first avowed, and consistently maintained, by the lay-men who sat as Parliamentary Commissioners in that Synod. The Scotch Presbyterians indeed, at an early period, had told the people, that they came to “ deliver them from the tyranny of the Prelates;" but it was not till they begun openly to explain in the Assembly their severe mode of " deliverance,” that the statesmen, Erastians as they were generally termed, and “ the Independents," (under which denomination were included all the sects that were not Presbyteriaus or Episcopalians,) manifested their aversion to the enforcement of the minute and rigid observances of the Pres. byterian system. Several of these strict minutiæ have been well described in page 446; and though the national platform of church-government adopted by the lovg Parliament was Presbyterian, yet it was encompassed with such guards and checks in its execution, as mollified its native intolerance, and rendered many parts of its discipline inefficient : For without the power of the civil magistrate, a Presbyterian excommunication became ** a thing of nought,”-and that power the magistrates were unwilliug to

[ocr errors]

prayers, sermons, and tracts of their clergy, not unfrequently excited popular tumults in London, and stimulated their frantic

exert at the heck of every lay-elder, partly on account of the unpopularity of such a course in those days of professed liberty, and partly on account of having imbibed better potions about religious freedom.-See page 401.

In a subsequent part of this Appendix it will be seen, that, vu Cromwell's assumption of the supreme authority, the Presbyterian influence was further weakened by the appointment of “ the Triers and Ejectors,” and by the encouragement afforded to the swarms of sects which theo abounded. That wary politician seems to have acted upon the maxim of King James, in balanciug the power of one party by that of its opponent. It was in this way that the Independents obtained the greatest portion of their influence, and not by any more enlightened views of toleration which they entertained. On the contrary, it can be proved, that, in various places, both in England and in foreign countries, in which the novel system of Independency had obtained its wishes, it ruled in the churches with a rod of iron, and was in no respect inferior to its Presbyterian rival in the severity and multitude of its exactions. The Independents of those days were eminently a time-serving race: Of this, a stronger proof will not be desired, than the following extract from Robert Baylie's Dissuasive, which is quoted, with manifest complacency, by Mr. Orme in his Life of Dr. Owen: “ Of all the by-paths wherein the wanderers of our time are pleased to walk, this (Independency) is the most considerable; not for the number, but for the quality, of the erring persons therein. There be few of the noted sects which are not a great deal more numerous; but this way, what it wants in number, supplies by the weight of its followers. After five years' endeavours and great industry within the lines of the city's communication, they are said as yet to consist much within one thousand persons ; men, women, and all who to this day have put themselves in any known congregation of that way, being reckoned. But setting aside number, for other respects they are of so eminent a condition, that not any por all the rest of the sects are comparable to them; for they have been so wise as to engage to their party, some of chief note, in both Houses of Parliament, in the Assembly of Divines, in the army, in the city and country-committees; all whom they daily manage with such dexterity and diligence, for the benefit of their cause, that the eyes of the world begin to fall upon them more than upon all their fellows."

Baylie afterwards informs us: “ The Independents of London, Arnheim, and Rotterdam, have been famous for a sufficient care of a set provision, above the ordinary, to the rate of two or three hundred pounds a year : And lest their income should decrease with too large deduction for the supply of the poor, it hath been their providence to admit none or few poor members of their congregations.” In proof of this he adduces the following paragraph from BASTWICK's Independency : “ It is well known and can sufficiently, be proved, that gudly christians of holy conversation, against whom they had no exception either for doctrine or manners, and who offered themselves to be admitted members upon their own conditions, and yet were not suffered to be JOINED MEMBERS, only because they were poor ; and this very reason was given them for their not-admission, that they would not have their church over-burthened with poor.-It was replied, that the congregation of which he was pastor consisted of great personages, knights, ladies, and rich merchants and such people, as they, being but poor, could not walk so suitably with them ; wherefore he persuaded them to join themselves with some other congregation among poor people, where they might better walk, and more comfortably, in fellowship with them.”—This method of gathering together a christian church is somewhat different to that described in St. Matthew, (xi, 5,) “ The Poor have the Gospel preached to them.” If those reverend fathers of Independency preached the gospel at all, it appears to have been a modification of evangelical truth that was not calculated for the meridian of the poor, but was designed for the powerful and the opulent.

Laing says, in his History of Scotland, “ Contrary to the progress of other sects, the Independent system was first addressed, and apparently recommended by its tolerating principles, to the higher orders of social life.

admirers to assemble in mobs, and annoy other congregations of Christians by showers of stones. They imagined that the sacred truths of revelation would soon become extinct, unless

It was in the progressive state of the sect, when in danger from the persecuting spirit of the Presbyterians, that it descended to the lower classes of the community, where other sectaries begin their career.” It has been observed by the most judicious of our church-historians, that this has always been the scriptural career” of Christianity itself, as predicted by the prophet Jeremiah and repeated in the Epistle to the Hebrews, ** For they shall all know me, From the least of them into the greatest of them, saith the Lord.” The pliability of Independency accommodated itself to the extraordinary circumstances in which the country was placed on the abolition of Episcopacy; when all those who were disaffected towards Presbyterianism, might choose, among fifty INDEPENDENT sects, that wbich agreed best with their peculiar sentiments. Such cunning fishers of men, as was Dr. Owen, unfettered by Confessions of Faith except those of their own framing, which were interpreted according to the varying and latitudinarian principles of individuals, had abundant scope for the developement of their talents, while angling in those troubled waters : They suffered the small fry to escape, and retained ovly the largest of the fishes. What a temptation was this to the ambitious spirits of many young and unfledged ecclesiastics ! The eagerness with which it was embraced, to the destruction of many who might in more favourable circumstances have been emiuent in the Church of Christ for their piety and usefulness,-is recorded in the dark page of ecclesiastical history which relates to that agitated period. Many of those aspiring individuals lived io extreme old age, and were favoured with leisure for lainenting the youthful impetuosity which had plunged them into inexcusable errors.

In the parable of the GREAT SUPPER, when the men of substance - all with one consent began to make excuse, the MASTER of the house said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in

hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the vlind !'-After reading this command, one would suppose, no true minister of Jesus Christ could so far disregard it as to exult in a contrary practice, and boast that the Christianity of his sect had been first embraced by the great and the rich." Yet Mr. Orme thus fearlessly declares himself concerning this mat- : ter: “ On the language of Laing I beg to observe, that if Independency in England was first embraced by the higher class of society, it has never been the religion of the lower class only. The great body of its supporters have all along been found in the middling, or mercantile and commercial class of the population : Whether they are the fools or fanatics of the country, may be easily determined.” The purport of this observation seems to be, that the Indepeudeuts“ are not the fools or fanatics of the country,” because

the great body of them have all along been found in the middling class of the population.” Leaving this “ mercantile or cominercial class to stand or fall to their own Master, I must observe, that, among “the higher class of society.” by whom “ Independency in England is said to have been “ first embraced," were men of the greatest emineuce in the State, who will alúays be recoguized as the most consummatefools or fanatics of the country, if they believed what they severally wrote, spoke, and published ; if they did not believe, in many instances, their own canting Calvinistic expressions, which were then too frequently used as the only current coin of the realm, they were worse than “ fools or fanatics,” and some of them have in consequence received from posterity a more appropriate and disgraceful appella. tion. Rauk and riches, therefore, do not necessarily endue the possessors of them with a superior understanding, or exonerate them from liability to error.-Mr. Orine seems to have mistaken the proper mode of argumentation on this topic: For, with no man of sense would the mere circumstance of “ Independency being the religion of the lower class only,operate to its disparageineut. His acquaintance with the Independent interest must lie chiefly among the inhabitants of large towns or cities, or he could never have ventured to assert “ that the great body of the supporters of Indepen

[ocr errors]

guarded by penal statutes; and that the ministers of Christ, even with the inspired volume in their hands, could do little in the defence and propagation of Christianity, unless, in the enforcement of their arguments, they could command the services of Constables, and Justices of the Peace.* Their determined opposition to that liberty of conscience which others claimed, after their own example, proves them unworthy of the deference paid to them by the Long Parliament, and has left an

dency have all along been found in the commercial class of the population." This is an incorrect statement even when it is modified by the addition of the "middle or mercantile class.” I know many Independent congregations in small towns and villages so poor, as not to be able to allow their pastors a sufficient stipend for the maintenance of themselves and families. The good men have in consequence to labour with their hands to supply the deficiency; and, though nothing better than masons, weavers, or watch-makers during six days in the week, yet, for the acceptable service which they perform to ihe souls of men on “ the sweet Sabbath of rest,” they elicit unequivocal respect from many persons who have inveterate prejudices against lay-preaching and Dissent, while they prove themselves to be more useful members of the pastoral order than some of their gentlemanly brethren,-a few of whom, untortunately for the interests of historic truth, possess too much leisure, and too little charity, learning, and discrimination.

These bickerings between the Presbyterians and Independents, respecte ing Toleration and Church-government, continued many years; yet it must never be forgotten, that on all great emergencies they combined, as Calvinists, against every thing that bore “ the image and superscription" of loyalty and Arminianism. The subjoined was a good remark, by the author of a Caveat to Cavaliers, in 1661: “ Concerning the supposed antipathy bewixt the wrangling Presbyter and Independent, all comes to this: They are two ravenous beasts, that agree well enough to devour beeves and muttons, and prey upon the innocent. So soon as the object of their common appetite is spent, they fall to worry one another; yet, in the heat of all their fury, cast but a sheep (a cavalier) betwixt them, they shall part, reconcile, fall on, and share the quarry.” See also the note in page 386.

" Dec. 25 1657. I went to London with my wife, to celebrate Christmasday, Mr. Gunning preaching in Exeter Chapel, on Michah vii, 2. Sermon ended, as he was giving us the holy sacrament, the chapel was surrounded with soldiers and all the communicants and assembly surprized and kept prisoners by them, some in the house, others carried away. It fell to my share to be confined to a room in the house, where yet I was permitted to dine with the master of it, the Countess of Dorset, Lady Hatton, and sonie others of quality who invited me. In the afternoon came Col. Whaly, Goffe, and others, from Whitehall, to examine us one by one : Some they committed to the Marshall, some to prison. When I came before them, they took my vame and abode, examined me why, contrary to an ordinance 'made that none should any longer observe the superstitinus time of the nati

vity, (so esteemed by them,) I durst offend, and particularly be at Common • Prayers, which, they told me, was but the Mass in English, and particu.

larly pray for Charles Stewart, for which we had no scripture.' I told them, we did not pray for Charles Stewart, but for all christian kings, princes and governors. They replied, ' In so doing we prayed for the King of Spain too, who was their enemy and a Papist,' with other frivolous and ensnaring questions, and much threatening: And finding no colour to detain me, they dismissed me with MUCH PITY OF MY IGNORANCE! These were meu of high fight and above ordinances, and spoke spiteful things of our Lord's nativity. As we went up to receive the sacrament, the miscreants held their muskeis against us, as if they would have shot us at the altar, but yet suffering us to finish the Office of Communion, as perhaps not having instructions what to do in case they found us in that action. So I got home late the next day, blessed be God !" EVELYN's Diary.

[ocr errors]


indelible stain upon their memory:* It would be easy to produce some hundreds of extracts from their printed works, in which they not only avow the principles, but also display the spirit of persecution.

* The following extract from Archbishop Tenison's Argument for Union, will afford a brief view of the spirit of the different religious sects that prevailed during the Inter-regnum: “ There was a party in the nation who were then called Dissenting Brethren; and to these the Directory was as offensive, as the Canons and Liturgy had been to those of the Discipline. In 1644 they drew up reasons against the Directory of Church government by Presbyters. They afterwards in 1645 printed an open Remonstrance against Presbytery, of which the Assembly of Divines complained to the House as of a scandalous libel. And there were those who reproached the Presbyterians in the same phrases in which they had given vent to their displeasure against the Liturgy of the Church of England. The ministers of Lancashire complained concerning them (the Independents,

• That they • had compared the Covenant

to the Alcoran of the Turks, and Mass of the Papists, and Service-Book of the Prelates. As likewise, that • they said, it was a brazen serpent fit to be broken in pieces and ground to

powder, rather than that men should fall down and worship it.' Amongst the Disciplinarians, some were confident of success. One of them, Mr. S. Sympson, in his sermon of reformation in 1643, (for he was not then gone over to the part of the Independents,) expressed his assurance in these most unbecuming words, before the Commons : It will,' said he, bring such a blot con God as he shall never wipe out, if your poor prayers should be turned • into your own bosoms; that prayer for reformation ?-A speech not fit to have been repeated, if it were not necessary to learn sobriety and wisdom from the remembrances of extravagance in former times.

“ Those Independents who adhered to that part of the House which joined with the army, prevailed for a season; but they also were disturbed by those who went under the name of Lilburnists, Levellers, Agitators : Then Enthusiasm, excited in part by the common pretence of an extraordinary light, revealed (as of a sudden) in those days in England, brake forth into open distraction. Enthusiasm was now openly favoured by Cromwell himself; who, together with six soldiers, prayed and preached at Whitehall. His own temper was warmed with fits of Enthusiasm. And he confessed it to a person of condition, (from whom I received it, as did others yet living,) that he prayed according to extraordinary impulse. And that, pot feeling such impulse, (which he called supernatural,) he did forbear to pray, oftentimes for several days together. In process of time, his House of Commons, and he himself, were publicly disturbed by that wild spirit, in the raising of which they had been so unbappily instrumental.-A Quaker came to the door of the House in 1654, and drew his sword, and cut those nigh him, and said, “ He was inspired by the Holy Spirit to kill every man

who sate in that convention.' And he himself was not only conspired against by those who called themselves, the free and well affected people of England, but openly bespattered by the ink of the Quakers in several pamphlets, and by their clamours affronted in his own chapel, where, before his face, they gave bold interruption to his preachers.”

At an early period, when pleading, as Lieutenant General, at the head of his victorious troops, for granting liberty of conscience to the Independents, whom be then favoured, Oliver Cromwell addressed a letter to the Long Parliament, in which the following expressions occur: “ As for being united iu forms commonly called UNIFORMITY, every christian for peace sake would study and do as far as conscience would permit; and from brethren, in things of the mind, we look for no compulsion but that of light and reason ; in other things, God has put the sword into the Parliament's hands for the terror of evil. doers, and the praise of them that do well ; if any plead exemption from it, he knows not the gospel.” The power here ascribed to the Parliament, Oliver subsequently adopted ; and, iu imitation of the former objects of his censure, extended it, in his last years, to several matters that belonged peculiarly to what he calls “ things of the mind."

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »