Project Canterbury

Lachrymae Ecclesiae

The Anglican Reformed Church and Her Clergy in the Days of Their Destitution and Suffering during the Great Rebellion in the Seventeenth Century.

By George Wyatt

London: W. J. Cleaver, 1844.

Chapter III. Malicious perseverance of Puritanical Faction--Sequestration of ecclesiastical revenues--Cathedrals wantonly injured--Forlorn and melancholy reduction of churches and benefices --Abolition of episcopal order--Graduates and candidates for holy orders--Some beneficed clergy side with the Puritans--Mr. Grimstone and Mr. Selden--Lecturers set up--Their outrageous language

THE bill before mentioned, "for the utter eradication of Bishops, Deans and Chapters," &c., and attempted so foolishly by Sir Edward Bering, to be brought into the House, did not, after all, at that time succeed. The ingenuity and tact of Mr. Hyde (afterwards the great Lord Clarendon) effected this temporary discomfiture. The House had voted him into the chair of the Committee sitting upon this bill; and this was done with the view of preventing any opposition to it which he might, by his eloquence, wish to make But Mr. Hyde was too sound a friend to the Reformed [48/49] Church, too loyal a subject and too sagacious a man, to allow any legitimate opportunity to escape him for exerting his best energies in support of that cause. "He found means therefore" (as Walker expresses it) "to make the House heartily repent of their conduct in that affair, By his good management, though Chairman of the Committee, so little progress was made in the course of twenty days, towards finishing the desired work, that it ceased for the present, and was not again resumed till the war was actually begun."

That a certain amount of mischief, however, was done by this Committee, is undeniable. They passed a resolution, "that all ecclesiastical jurisdiction should no longer be exercised by Bishops, but by a lay commission under the controul of the House itself; and that every county member should give in the names of nine persons to be in this commission, to the entire exclusion of the clergy themselves, who were not to be allowed to have any share in it." It is remarkable with what persevering and untired industry the Faction in the House plied them selves to this one object; never letting opportunity escape, nor temptation to indulgence seduce [49/50] them away from it. So insidiously and jesuitically also did they work, that many of the loyal party were completely cajoled by their chicanery, never suspecting the extent of the evil which they really meditated. Candour, fair-dealing, or Christian charity, indeed, did not appear at any time to be mixed up with their conduct towards the Church, or otherwise these controversies and schisms had never risen to that height of bitterness and distraction, which now so heavily afflicted the nation. One consequence, however, of their crafty management was, that the Faction would often contrive to get rid of the presence of their opponents in the House, by either misleading them, or tiring them quite out. Nor did this trickery pass without pointed observation; the Lord Falkland, "whom every man of his time was proud to praise," [Johnson's Life of Cowley.] having said of it, that "they who hated Bishops, hated them worse than the devil; whilst they who loved them, did not love them so well as their dinners;" the fact being, that the Puritanical party in the House did so contrive to protract the discussions on the questions of the Church and Hierarchy, that the patience and personal comforts of the other side [50/51] were often put to severer trials than they could well bear.

There was also another expedient to which the Faction resorted, with a view to an effectual issue of their great wishes, the demolition of the Hierarchy. They knew well that it would be next to impossible, except by some stratagem, to obtain the King's consent to such a measure; and they knew that however the Commons might themselves have no difficulty in passing such a bill, it would not be so easy to get it through the Lords. The political state of the nation too was now such, that between the King and the Parliament there existed a spirit of decided contradiction and animosity. The Commons, therefore, at length openly avowed their determination, never to accede to any terms of reconciliation with the King, until the bill for the total eradication of Episcopacy should have passed the upper House. This was a rough and ungracious position to assume; but it was not an ineffective one. The bill passed both Houses. But even this did not move the King from his noble resolution to refuse his assent to it. The Parliament proposed, therefore, as a farther inducement to his Majesty, to invest all episcopal lands in his own person. But the [51/52] King scorned so flagrant an act of injustice and spoliation, and would consent to go no farther than to reform, in the affairs and government of the Church, whatever might be considered amiss in it; and indeed a bill, containing certainly some very wholesome and judicious provisions, was actually prepared, and brought into the House by Archbishop Williams, (rather a friend than otherwise, to the Puritanical party,) with this express object in view. Bishops, by this bill, were to be required to preach once every Sunday were to be restrained from acting as justices of the peace were to have twelve assist ants in the administration of their official duties; the King, Lords, and Commons, having each the separate privilege of choosing four: other things also were proposed by this bill, for the better regulation of preaching, for ministers parochial residence, for pluralities, for scandalous clergy, for ecclesiastical commissions, &c. Here, at least, was a channel offered for conciliation, and even in some points for reformation. But this would not please a party, determined on more uncompromising and exterminating measures. Honest reform was clearly not their object--it would not suit their views. Nothing would satisfy but [52/53] utter demolition; and therefore, it is not surprising that Archbishop Williams bill should have come to nothing.

We shall now see what power will do, when lodged unbalanced in the hands of malicious and unscrupulous persons. Legitimate authority, though deprived of power, will always be respected by upright, candid, and virtuous minds; but power without legitimate authority, none but the vicious and selfish will take delight in. The King had now lost his power, or nearly so, but not his kingly authority. The Parliament was all puissant, but their authority, single-handed, was manifestly more than dubious; it was a wicked, unwarrantable assumption. To stand up in determined and savage rebellion against "God's anointed," or "the powers that be, which are ordained of God," seems no less a transgression against Gospel precept and principle, than any other offence which is therein forbidden; and one might reasonably have hoped that they, who were ever pretending to "seek the Lord," and to act by "godly discipline," would be the last to set the laws of God and of Christian charity at defiance. But godliness is sometimes fictitious and temporizing, and when the tree is thus corrupt, [53/54] we must not expect the fruit to be sound and good.

Finding, therefore, that they had no hope of gaining the King over to the "Root and Branch" project, they at once proceeded, in spite of his countenance and authority, to "appoint a committee for the sequestration of Bishops lands, of those of Deans and Chapters, and of the King's revenues also, to he employed in the defence of the Commonwealth;" and in a few months after this appointment had been made, they framed a further and a more stringent ordinance "for the sequestration of the estates of notorious delinquents," meaning those of the ecclesiastical order who had taken part with the King against the Puritanical Faction. The work of demolition, therefore, for which the bowels of these sour and unconscionable fanatics had been so long yearning, was now (1642) actually begun. The Cathedrals with their possessions, were treated with an unsparing hand, and many of their members were committed to prison, or had to suffer some other ignominious infliction. Those venerable fabrics at Canterbury, Rochester, Chichester, Winchester, Worcester, Lincoln, Lichfield, Bristol, &c., were among the first and principal victims of these [54/55] sacrilegious spoilers--not indeed that those venerable piles were themselves actually demolished, but much and grievously were they mutilated and defaced, their possessions taken from them, and the noble and apostolical services which were wont to be administered within them, coarsely derided, and in many cases wholly suppressed.

The peculiar pretences under which all these spoliations were ordained or sanctioned by the Parliament, viz. "for the defence of the Commonwealth"--"to carry on war against the King"--"to pay for preaching lectureships"--"to be employed for the public safety," &c., were at once an indication of the ignorant and revolutionary fanaticism which influenced their decisions. How deeply such doings and motives were lamented by the King, and how utterly they were at variance with his high and honorable principles, we want no further proofs to convince us; although the following sentiment in his Eikon Basilike, ch. 14, is of too amiable and upright a spirit not to be brought forward on such an occasion as this. "There are ways" (he writes) "enough to repair the breaches of the State, without the ruin of the Church. As I would be a restorer of the one, so I would not be an oppressor of the other, under [55/56] the pretence of public debts." The fact, indeed, which afterward transpired, that many of these ecclesiastical possessions were sold at very moderate and even at ignominious prices, to some of the more selfish and unprincipled of the Puritanical party themselves, confirmed the suspicion, which many people at that time had entertained--that one motive of the faction in so resolutely laying their violent hands on the ecclesiastical revenues and property, was, the opportunity it afforded them of greatly enriching their own coffers, at the same time that they were indulging their own sectarian and revolutionary spirit. None of these things, however, were brought about under any legitimate authority, but only under that which the Parliament had now usurped, in utter defiance of the King, and in direct opposition to many of the most intelligent and most important portion of the nation.

It may here be interesting, though painful, to see some particulars relating to the mode of operation by which these unsanctified and revolting purposes were accomplished. Walker expressly tells us, that "when the Abbey Church at Westminster was despoiled in 1644, they seized the goods, utensils, &c. belonging to it, which they either [56/57] destroyed, or plundered for the use of the State; but taking care to adorn the House of Commons" (by way of insulting trophies, no doubt) "with the whole suite of hangings, which were placed in the choir of that church, and some taken out of the King's wardrobe." The same writer further says, that by order of a Special Committee appointed by the Commons, the Deans, Prebendaries, &c. of Westminster, were pronounced to be "Delinquents" to the Parliament, and therefore to be suspended from their offices and places, from all manner of benefit or profit from them, or from any arrears, "Mr. Osbaldiston only excepted." [This will be explained hereafter, when we come to speak of Mr. Osbaldiston more at large.] The plate also, and other valuable appendages found in the College, was taken care of in so peculiar a manner by this Committee, that it was either stolen, or sold, or otherwise embezzled, for the use of private persons. Some thing of the same fate then awaited the Cathedral of Hereford, whose dignitaries were all dispossessed, and their houses and revenues seized and pillaged under the orders of this Committee. Then came the Cathedral of Winchester, where the Bishop's palace, the deanery, and eight [57/58] prebendal houses, were pulled down, and the materials sold. A very long list of violent desecrations of this kind might he added, extending even to more unpretending fabrics than the splendid cathedra], or the Bishop's palace. Many an unoffending and humble parish church, many a "modest mansion," the appropriate residence of the parish pastor, many a lawful, pious, pains taking pastor himself indeed, and many a lawful possession belonging to him, whether in land, or tithe, or oblation, or rent, was unscrupulously wrested away from their sacred and authorized purposes, to satisfy the malicious and persecuting covetousness of Puritanical zeal. So that the picture presented by the now state of the kingdom to the eye of peaceful, sober, charitable, and right-thinking men--men of honest, upright principles--men of apostolical attachments and church affections--the picture which the disordered and subverted state of things in the nation now presented to their eyes, was of the most painful and mortifying description.

The consecrated and venerable structures of our Christian forefathers, from the solemn majestic cathedral, down to the sequestered, unobtrusive parish church-memorable monuments of piety [58/59] were now to be seen in almost every county in the nation, more or less defaced and profaned. The Church's patrimony, solemnly dedicated to the service of God in the maintenance of His legitimate minister, sacrilegiously torn away from the Church, and employed for purposes, either of open rebellion, or of some private and grasping enrichment. The holy and daily sacrifice of worship in the Church, agreeably to her own especial ordinance and liturgy, peremptorily interdicted and impiously reviled; and those very foundations in our two venerable universities, which had encouraged and nurtured more able champions for the Reformed Church of England, than was ever found under any other Protestant Church in Europe, "were sapped almost from the very bottom"--their valuable purposes defeated or distorted--their chairs of theological instruction occupied by factious and sectarian teachers--and all under the pretence of eradicating Popery and superstition, but with the real view of making more easy the path of rebellion against the State, and of ruin to the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of Christ.

"Lo! discord at the altar dares to stand,
Uplifting towards high heaven her fiery brand." WORDSWORTH.

[60] In giving however this summary account of the religious doings of the "Long Parliament," or rather of the "Committee of religion" acting under Parliamentary sanction, it may be worth while to notice one particular intimation which they had openly avowed, and marking emphatically the malicious spirit by which they were moved, viz., that "they would consider what cathedrals were fit to stand, and what to he demolished, and how such as shall be demolished may be applied to the payment of the public faith." This was an undisguised suggestion, and leaves us no room to doubt of the real spirit and temper of those times, when both Church and State were fallen into the hands of such wanton spoilers. The Parliament, as we may easily believe, was in the acme of its potency, when such a notion, as that just mentioned, could be so openly and fearlessly broached in it. How it happened, however, that the cathedrals were not, after all, made subject to any total demolition, but only to a widespreading mutilation, we are not told; but it is nevertheless quite certain, that many of the most determined and uncompromising of these factious and furious destroyers did express their unfeigned regret, that the cathedrals were ever permitted to [60/61] remain; and they went so far as to lay it down as an egregious error, a misplaced lenity in the Parliament that it should so stop the hand of destruction. "Tear away the nests," (said they,) "and the birds will never return." True enough may be this aphorism in certain cases--true enough it may be, that the bird will not return when she finds her nest utterly destroyed. But whilst intemperate and unqualified zeal (like that of these persecuting fanatics) will often be led on to assume the certainty of coming events, more by what it desires, than by what sound reasoning would dictate; so, in the present case, may we feel pretty sure, that the faction would have over shot their hopes, had they really extended their barbarities so far as to the utter demolition of even every cathedral in England.

People too easily imagine, that what is agreeable to their inclinations is agreeable to religious truth. The birds, during the raging of so merciless a tem pest, might have been dispersed; but at the ceasing of it, would they not have returned? Although permitted by the providence of God to be oppressed, and perhaps under wholesome chastisement for a season, yet would the same Providence have utterly deserted them, or permitted the utter [61/62] extermination and destruction of that sacred order and institution, which, "for His own glory and the benefit of His people," had been from the first erected, and continued under divine sanction? But we must now recollect, that besides these barbarous measures for uprooting the whole Church establishment, with her hierarchy, ministers, Liturgy, patrimony, and sacred fabrics, the Parliament did not omit certain other expedients, which, as matters affecting the consciences of the clergy, might seem likely to contribute to the same end.

The "Root and Branch" Committee aimed, as we have already seen, chiefly at the ejection of the Bishops from the House of Lords, and the total abolition of the episcopal order altogether. The former object they finally effected; and they further imagined, that refusing to recognize episcopacy in the nation would be tantamount to its abolition!--thus thinking to eradicate an ordinance of God by merely human and capricious interdiction of it. This was the same spirit which, at another time, showed itself in the French revolution at the close of the 18th century. That nation, thinking to act by its own proud and puffed-up inventions, independently of all divine [62/63] ordinances, would fain have abolished for ever the ordinance of the seventh day Sabbath, substituting in its place the tenth day. ["The Committee of Public Instruction was directed to prepare a new calendar for the French Republic, in which the division of the year into months and weeks, as acknowledged by the whole Christian world, was abolished, in hopes of obliterating every trace of Sunday, holydays, feasts, and fasts."--Adolphus' History of France, Vol. I., p. 424.] For a short season this tenth day was recognized, just as the suspension of episcopacy was for a season accomplished by these factious Puritans; but when more whole some days returned to the French people, the absurd tenth day Sabbath (if it may be so termed) fell into desuetude. It became a non-entity, and the legitimate seventh resumed her proper position. That was an ordinance of God, and however many portions of the Christian world, and most especially the Popish portion, may much under value and abuse such an ordinance, yet it is from its very nature and origin unabolishable by any human influence. Just so of episcopacy in the times we are now alluding to. Episcopacy is, through Christ, an especial ordinance of God, the Apostles being the first Bishops, and their episcopal or official, though not their miraculous, [63/64] endowments being, by divine decree, transmitted from successor to successor down to the present time, and so to be continued as long as the kingdom of Christ shall endure upon earth. [On the question as to episcopacy being a divine ordinance, the sentiments of Bishop Hall are very interesting. "For Christ's sake," (he says,) "for the Church's sake, for your souls sake, be exhorted to hold fast to this holy institution of your blessed Saviour and his unerring Apostles, and bless God for Episcopacy. Do but cast your eyes a little back, and see what noble instruments of God's glory He hath been pleased to raise up in this very church of ours, out of this sacred vocation! . . . . What strong champions of truth, what renowned antagonists of Rome and her superstitions! What Christian church under heaven hath yielded so many glorious lights of the Gospel. Let envy grind her teeth, the memory of these worthy prelates shall be ever sweet and blessed Go you on to honour these your reverend pastors; to hate all factious withdrawings from that government, which comes the nearest of any Church upon earth to the Apostolical."] It was therefore by a satanic device, by a "strong delusion," that the episcopal office fell, for a season, into retirement. Bishops (like the seventh day Sabbath) were set aside for a time; but on the return of more healthy days, episcopacy soon returned to her own legitimate position, no human power, being competent, either then or ever, to extinguish it.

[65] There was, however, another expedient resorted to by the Parliament with a view to bring odium and destruction upon the Church. As we have before observed, the "Root and Branch" petition was the stirring "vox populi" of the day. It had raised many a hot and rebellious flame in breasts which might otherwise have been influenced by more pacific and reasonable suggestions. But it was one of the many desperate effects of this notorious petition, that the House of Commons passed a certain resolution, the object of which was to prevent all Graduates at the Universities intended for holy orders, from taking any of the usual oaths, or making any of the usual subscriptions in support of the services and doctrines of the Church.

Quite of a piece also with this ungracious mea sure was another, not less injurious to that holy institution. It was this,--that none of the usual oaths or declarations on induction to a benefice should be any longer required. The objects which these pretenders to godliness were driving at by the introduction of such resolutions as these, it was very easy to discover. Depriving the Church of her wholesome discipline, of her reasonable and prudent regulations for the admission and [65/66] government of her ministers, would be, as the Puritans well knew, not to preserve the integrity or purity of the Church, but to open her doors to her bitterest foes and revilers--foes who while they would maliciously distort her services and doctrines, would, at the same time, sacrilegiously covet her possessions and accommodations. These factious objects however were obtained. The resolutions were acceded to; and, as we shall see by and bye, the Church, in consequence, became a sort of spiritual bear garden, exemplifying too really the words of the Apostle, that "where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work." [James iii. 16.] Had this wild, licentious, levelling spirit showed itself only among an ignorant and undisciplined laity, the wonder had been less, and the offence, at least, the more excusable. But unhappily the flame spread with furious and in discriminate violence throughout all classes alike, more or less; and many of the clergy, even the beneficed clergy themselves, were deeply scorched, and some quite consumed by it. Walker tells us, that a set of these misguided men had gone so far as to join in a remonstrance to the Parliament [66/67] "against the whole government of the Church,"--a step which was by far too agreeable to the temper of that notable assembly to be dismissed without special and immediate attention. A debate soon ensued on the occasion, and ended with certain resolutions, aiming at the still further downfall of the Church, but couched under the more plausible pretext of only putting down Popery. During the debate there were two very distinguished and able members, who each took his part in it, Mr. Grimstone, and Mr. Selden. When the matter began to be warmly discussed, Mr. Grimstone resorted to a most ingenious logic to maintain his argument against the remonstrance, which the rebellious ministers of the Church had just presented to the house. "That Bishops" (said he) "are jure divino, may be questioned; that Archbishops are not jure divino, is out of the question. Now that Bishops which are questioned whether jure divino, or Archbishops which out of the question are not jure divino, should suspend ministers which are jure divino, I leave for you to consider." Selden's reply was equally witty, and not less correct. "That the convocation" (he said) "is jure divino, may be questioned; that Parliaments are not jure divino, is out of the [67/68] question; that religion in jure divino, there is no question. Now, Sir, that the convocation which is questionable whether jure divino, and Parliaments which out of the question are not jure divino, should meddle with religion, which questionless is jure divino, I leave to your consideration."

It was not easy to gainsay such acuteness as this, be it subtle sophistry, or sound logic; nor could the inconsistency and injustice of the Parliament's proceedings on this particular occasion against the Hierarchy and the Church have been more ingeniously exposed. Perhaps Mr. Selden's illustration was less exceptionable than that of the other; for if the jus divinum of the prelacy may be questioned, the jus divinum of the ministry ordained by them would be questionable too. But the jus divinum of religion cannot be questioned, whilst the jus divinum of the convocation and the Parliament might, of course, be open to a question. So that, upon this ground, there was much greater inconsistency in the Parliament pretending to meddle with matters of religion, than in bishops assuming a certain wholesome jurisdiction over their clergy. However, the pearls were only cast before swine, when any kind of honest or skilful reasoning was addressed to the Parliament in [68/69] defence of the Church; or when any attempts were made to moderate the virulent spirit which now prevailed against her.

The rebellious and apostate clergy abated none of their fanaticism; but even added another and still stronger petition to the house, urging on the anomalous and unholy work, which that assembly had already begun; and offering also to them the most fulsome and mawkish thanks for the progress they had yet made in what they called the reformation of the Church. It formed indeed a prominent part in the labours of this knot of clergymen to get the Liturgy and the Rubrics set aside; and they even appeared themselves in person--or at least by their prolocutor, Dr. Burgess--at the bar of the House to advocate their unhappy views and wishes with the greater energy and diligence. It may be easily under stood how greatly such a course as this might impose on the credulity and understanding of many members of the House, who might be but ill acquainted with Church matters, and therefore not altogether prepared to combat the arguments of a set of Clergy, who with an air of zeal would seem to be advocating the Church's cause, whilst their measures were, in reality, calculated to [69/70] destroy it. Little might such members of the House be induced to suspect either the motives or the measures of such reverend solicitors, or to think that any course taken by such persons could be likely to be detrimental to the Church. Of all the blows therefore which were now so abundantly dealt out against the establishment, none was certainly more unnatural, or more detrimental to her best interests than this, which the rebellious and undutiful clergy themselves had struck. It had been well indeed (if any thing can be well in so bad a cause) had the clergy been content with this step; but when zeal works according to passion and feeling, and not "according to know ledge," its career is not so easily stopped or moderated. These apostate clergy therefore advance another step in their unholy work. They eagerly and spontaneously come forward, and offer their services to the Parliament as preachers, not of gospel truth, or church order and discipline, but of sedition and schism. They profanely use their own pulpits, and offer the use of them to others, for the propagation of those very qualities which St. Paul himself took so much pains to condemn and caution his people against, and from which one might reasonably suppose that men of [70/71] unpretending piety and godliness would studiously refrain, viz.: "hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, and heresies." By the active influence however of these refractory clergymen, the class of fanatical lecturers became regularly organized, and set up in most of the parishes in the kingdom, and whose main business it was to bring odium on the loyal and orthodox clergy, by every kind of vituperation and misrepresentation, and thus to preach down the Established and Reformed Church, and to aid in the erection of the Presbyterian party on its ruins. The holy principles of Christian love and charity, of sound doctrine, or of apostolic truth, could in no way be advanced by such contentions and "carnal" measures as these. Great and wide-spreading, there fore, were the injuries and distresses both to Church and State which arose from this unhappy cause of disaffection to them. "I must not forget," (says Clarendon,) "though it cannot be remembered without horror, that this strange wildfire among the people was not so much kindled by the Parliament as by certain of the clergy. These men having creeped into, and at last driven from the pulpits all the learned and orthodox clergy, had, under the pretence of reformation, [71/72] and extirpating Popery, infused seditious inclinations into the hearts of men against the present Government and Church .... Without controul do they inveigh against the person of the King, as they did before against the worst malignant, as the Faction now called all the loyal and orthodox clergy." Lord Clarendon again declares of these turbulent preachers, that "their perversion of Scripture to the most odious purposes, cannot but be looked on with trembling by good and pious men." One preacher takes his text from Exodus xxxii. 29, and endeavours thereby to incite his auditors to the most rigorous persecution of even relatives, neighbours, and dependants, who may refuse to concur in the measures of the Parliament against the Church." Another resorts to 1 Chron. xxii. 1 6, and tells the people, "it is not enough to wish well to the Parliament; they must bring purse as well as prayers; their hands as well as their hearts." Another employs the language of Judges v. 23, to introduce God's own curse against those who come not in all their strength to aid in destroying all the "malignants," and in "supporting the Parliament." "It would fill a volume," as Clarendon himself intimates, "to insert all the impious madness of this kind .... and methinks [72/73] the preaching treason and rebellion out of pulpits is as much worse than proclaiming it in the market, as murdering a man at the communion table would be worse than murdering him at a tavern." [Collier's Church History, Vol. II., p. 888.]

Such are the pictures of these melancholy times, presented to us by the graphic hand of an able and upright delineator. Clarendon may not perhaps be looked upon as altogether clear of prejudice, in thus delivering his comments and colourings on occasions of this kind. Nor is it easy for any writer to carry himself wholly independent of bias. But this is not necessarily inconsistent with the love of truth and fairness, especially as to facts and characters, in any momentous transactions. We find too, that other writers of equal celebrity and ability with Clarendon, bear him out in his representations. Dugdale, Collier, Fuller, Wood, afford us an insight into those things, confirming rather than invalidating what we read also in Clarendon. So that Walker himself, in his "Sufferings of the Clergy," gives us no fictitious picture in the few specimens he has recorded of the extreme coarseness [73/74] and vulgarity, to say nothing of the unchristian bitterness of spirit, displayed by these fanatical lecturers and preachers.

Mr. Case, in his own sermon before the House of Commons, tells them--"God is angry;"--and then he contrives a sort of colloquy between God and the Commons, making God remonstrate with them in these very impressive terms--"Will you strike? will you execute judgment, or will you not? Tell me; for if you will not, I will. I will have the enemies blood and yours too." Again; the notorious Stephen Marshall, Rector of Finchingfield, but nevertheless a hot-brained fanatic, and a determined leader of the Independents, in his own sermon before the Commons House of Parliament, delivers this very gracious and christian sentiment: "What soldier's heart would not start, deliberately to come into a subdued city, and take the little ones upon the spear's point, to take them by the heels, and beat out their brains against the wall--yet if this work be to revenge God's church against Babylon, he is a blessed man, that takes and dashes the little ones against the stones." John Vicars, another of these renegade clergy, in one of his publications describes the ceremonies of the Church, as "a stinking [74/75] heap of Atheistical and Eomish rubbish." "Throw away the rubbish" (he says)--"out with the Lord's enemies--vex the Midianites--abolish the Amalekites," &c. The language of Mr. Bond, Minister of Savoy Chapel in the Strand, another of those schismatics who rebelled against his spiritual mother the Church, is a still further specimen of that morbid feeling which, like the demoniacal possessions in our Saviour's days, seems to have been aggravated to an almost raving madness with some of the people of these times, both clergy and laity. Bond says, "The hierarchy is a fretting gangrene, a spreading leprosy, an in supportable tyranny. ... Oh! how many dumb devils are now casting out of many parishes in the land! This" (he says on another occasion) "is God's cause; and if our God had any cause, this is it; and if this be not God's cause, then God is no God for me, but the devil is got up into heaven." Such was the spirit in which the holy cause of "Church Reform" in those days was pretended to be maintained; and such was the enlightened and conciliating tone in which its advocates would think to advance its interests. As to "spirit," indeed, we may be well assured [75/76] that the Church's enemies and revilers have ever displayed the same at all times, the peculiar character of their conduct only being different according to the difference of occasions. In these present days of the nineteenth century we still see a similar spirit stirring among us, and requiring only opportunity and circumstance to enlarge its field of action. The Cases, the Marshalls, the Prynnes, the Bastwicks, and the Burtons of former times, still speak in the language of some modern dissenters, with their accustomed coarseness and hatred against the Reformed Church; and still would they play the same game again with her temporal and spiritual privileges, if opportunity and power should encourage them to the work.

Remarkable, however, it was, in the times of the Great Rebellion, that so gross and senseless an infatuation should diffuse itself so widely, not merely among the more ignorant and undisciplined populace, but also among so many of higher grades and more cultivated minds. Nor is it less remarkable, that the ill-conditioned, savage, and blasphemous language uttered so freely and continually by many of the leaders of the Faction against the Church, did not create disgust, rather [76/77] than favour, towards the objects which that refractory class so hotly advocated. But this certainly was not the case to any great extent. Men of station, of ability, and education were seen to join in the rebellious cry against both Church and King; and however the friends of the Church might yet be (as was the undoubted fact) both numerous and influential, yet they shrunk with horror from both the language and the doings of such coarse and fiendish revilers as they had now to contend with. They therefore bore their ills with patience, "not rendering evil for evil, but contrariwise blessing." It was not the friends, but the revilers, who made all the noise and encouraged the flame of discord and distraction, which now so embittered the nation; so that the friends of the Church would, of course, assume a much less formidable front than they otherwise might have done, had they been revengefully or spitefully disposed. For the tongue of the reviler against the Church, nothing seemed now too foul--for their feelings, nothing too malicious--for their practice, nothing too harsh or unjust. Even the very women, like those in the French revolution in 1791, imbibed so much of this [77/78] fanatical fury, that (as Walker describes it) "they sold their very thimbles and bodkins to aid the cause of what the party now always called the Blessed Parliament. "

"Ac veluti magno in populo cùm saepe coorta est
Seditio, saevitque animis ignobile vulgus;
Furor arma ministrat." AEN. I. 148.

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