This Lecture was written in its original form about the time of the Laud Commemoration (250 years from the Archbishop's death) in January, 1895. The writer had no opportunity to make use of the valuable books and papers which that Commemoration drew out, and can only suggest them here. His own sources were more particularly the following:
Laud's Diary, passim.
Laud's "Troubles and Trial."
Mozley, J. B., Essays, Historical and Theological, I., 106-228.
Littell's Living Age, CXIII, 1586 (Oct. 31, 1874), Article on Laud.
Bright, W., "Waymarks of History," 323-354, 426-432.
Also, that invaluable book--bitter, indeed, but no more bitter than a prophet's roll has to be sometimes--Dr. Thomas W. Coit's "Puritanism."
Maculay's views on Laud are given in his Reviews of Hallam's "Constitutional History," and of a "Life of John Hampden."
To these may well be added now references to Gladstone, W. E., Romanes Lecture in Oxford University, Oct. 24, 1892.
Wakeman, H. O., "The Church and the Puritans," 94-168.
Hutton, W. H., William Laud, "English Leaders of Religion."
Hutton, W. H., English Church from Charles I. to Anne, Ch. III.-VII.
Collins, W. E., edited by, Archbishop Laud Commemoration Lectures.
"What is the matter with the present Archbishop of Canterbury?" I said to a young Englishman whom I had encountered in an English inn in 1888. I had referred, I may say, to Archbishop Benson as holding the same view that I was advocating of a certain subject, and I had been met with a rather contemptuous setting aside of my authority. "Oh! well," said my ingenuous young friend of an hour, "there is nothing the matter with him particularly, but when a man talks about 'the martyred Laud,' what can you do with him?" Then I took that young man to me, and kindly, but firmly, pointed out to him in Socratic fashion by catechetical questioning of his somewhat inflexible intelligence, that if either Lord Salisbury or Mr. Gladstone should be put to death in a triumphant uprising of the contrary party, on the ground that his political principles, which he had always advocated, were injurious to the realm, and because he was such a powerful upholder of them, the statesman so murdered would be a martyr, whether his views were right or wrong. When he had assented to that commonplace, I felt that I had enlarged his historical imagination, and I hoped that I had done him good. Surely, whatever we may think of Laud otherwise, it is mere beef as against brains that refuses him the title of a martyr, dying unselfishly for intense convictions, even though no one ever went through any useless form of offering Mm an opportunity to recant. And a martyr is apt to be an interesting study, even a martyr on the wrong side. "It may be," says Canon Mozley, speaking of the interest that clings to this very period of history, "it may be that when men die for their principles, they are supposed to have something to say for themselves." That is what I venture to claim for William Laud. He has something to say for himself, and for two hundred years English History refused flatly and uncritically to hear it. The last fifty years have seen a distinct change, but no history of England that I have yet seen seems to me to reflect the new light with any fulness.
Before presenting any positive views about Laud, therefore, I want first to set down on the negative side that it is unhistorical to call him either a fool or a knave. I trust that that will seem to be a moderate statement, but nevertheless the thing which I stamp as unhistorical has been said over and over. The late Lord Macaulay--I emphasize the word "late," for he is a historian more thoroughly defunct than Herodotus,--the late Lord Macaulay is "the infant phenomenon" among English historians. He did more reading, perhaps, in his boyhood and early manhood, than any other man in England, and thus he acquired more knowledge, such as it was, and by consequence a more superficial and more crudely undigested knowledge, than any other historical writer of eminence that England ever had. Unfortunately, he has also been the most popular. In the United States his history had a circulation surpassing that of any other book in the world except the Bible (Encyclopedia Britannica, "Macaulay"). His smart sayings have done much to pervert the judgment of our great English-speaking family. "His propositions have no qualifications," says the Encyclopedia Britannica. (The article "Macaulay" was written by the late Mark Pattison (ob. 1884), who may be described as a "universal solvent" in the field of criticism. Though a man in Holy Orders, he had not the prejudices of a churchman, nor any prejudice in favor of anything.) "Uninstructed readers like this assurance, as they like a physician who has no doubt about their case. But a sense of distrust grows upon the more circumspect reader as he follows page after page . . . "We inevitably think of a saying attributed to Lord Melbourne, 'I wish I were as cocksure of any one thing as Macaulay is of everything.'"
"Cocksure" of everything, carefully exact about nothing, the man who has stood next to the Bible in the love and confidence of our simple-hearted American readers is easily contemptuous here. With him William Laud is "an imbecile," "a superstitions driveller," "a ridiculous old bigot." Poor soul! He does not get off with that sort of imputation. The same master hand writes him down as a vindictive persecutor, "irritable," "quick to feel for his own dignity, slow to sympathize with the sufferings of others, and prone to the error, common in superstitious men, of mistaking his own peevish and malignant moods for emotions of pious zeal." He has "a diabolical temper," which is a pretty strong statement. Nay, we are told of the Star Chamber and High Commission Court, that "Guided chiefly by the violent spirit of the primate, and freed from the control of Parliament, they displayed a violence, a rapacity, a malignant energy, which had been unknown to any former age. The government was able, through their instrumentality, to fine, imprison, pillory, and mutilate without restraint." (Macaulay's History, p. 68-69). Of course, this last passage is chiefly talk. Even Mr. Macaulay would have acknowledged, if personally pressed, that the royal tyranny was harder on Jews in the days of King John than on Christian Englishmen in the days of Charles I. Even Mr. Macaulay should have felt that the confiscation of the wealth of the monasteries by Henry VIII. was more violent and more rapacious than any proceeding that was dreamed of under any of the Stuarts. No doubt, he liked that kind of violence and rapacity, however, and stood ready to defend it, but how could he compare the cutting off of Prynne's and Leighton's ears, as a matter of "malignant energy," with the beheading of Sir Thomas More, or with the death of Laud himself!
As to this malignant energy, it is a simple fact, to be noted at the beginning of our discussion, that while the cause of absolutism has its three martyrs, Charles and Strafford and Laud, the party of resistance to oppression has none. Not a man lost his life for his opinions, political or religious, during the time when Laud was the chief guide of England's statecraft, no, not even in New England, where later, under the Commonwealth, they began to hang Quakers, and went on until they were frightened out of it by the Restoration of King Charles II. Compared with courts of the nineteenth century, Laudian courts were cruel. The world of his day was a cruel world. But compared with Commonwealth courts and Puritan courts Laudian courts were distinctly less cruel and less oppressive. (Cf. Stoughton's "Ecclesiastical History of England" (Non-Conformist), II., 362: "The amount of persecution inflicted upon Quakers by magistrates and by mobs during the Commonwealth is almost incredible.")
Another thing I must say right here, "Toleration" was not yet a recognized doctrine of the opponents against whom Laud felt called to contend. I am not saying this to excuse Laud for being intolerant. Intolerant in principle he was not. (Cf. Morley's "Life of Gladstone," III., 480. Mr. Gladstone is the speaker: "Do you know whom I find the most tolerant churchman of that time? Laud!") But as an adviser of the King, and as a powerful influence in English life, he had to deal with people who were themselves intolerant revolutionaries. He saw around him in England a growing politico-religious party who meant to crush out in England, if they could, what he believed to be the true religion of Jesus Christ. The rising Puritan element of that day had no idea of allowing the Episcopal Church to exist anywhere, if they could help it, nor the Church of England Prayer Book, nor any ministry claiming to be a priesthood, nor any such forms of worship as the Anglicanism of Laud clung to as most spiritual. The Puritan party meant to fight all that sort of thing to the death. To tolerate the Puritans with their well-known principles was to tolerate (just so far) a conspiracy against English liberty. The Puritan party were endeavoring to get power that they might destroy the liberty of all men who differed from them in opinion. The Westminster Assembly's Longer Catechism includes among sins against the Second Commandment "tolerating a false religion." The "Solemn League and Covenant" of the Scottish Puritans pledges them to "extirpate popery and prelacy," and forbids the countenancing any such evils as unfaithfulness to God. Over here in New England, Cotton Mather wrote, "It was toleration that made the world anti-Christian, and the Church never took hurt by the punishment of heretics." President Oakes, of Harvard University, preaching an Election Sermon, proclaimed aloud. "I look upon toleration as the first-born of all abominations." (T. W. Coit's Puritanism, p. 285-288).
Again, I must have a word about the methods of these people. Opinion in our time is divided as to what ought to be done to people who utter speeches or write pamphlets inciting anarchists to use dynamite. Most of us are not yet alarmed with quaking fears that the anarchists will do it. If we had such fears, we should demand such penalties for such utterances as we thought would stop them. In the reign of King Charles I. pamphlets suggesting that somebody ought to be killed were seriously apt to be followed by the killing of somebody. If Leigh ton lost his ears, and stood in the pillory, it was for writing a pamphlet in which he had not only denounced Episcopacy as anti-Christ, and the bishops as men of blood, and the Queen as a daughter of Heth, but seriously suggested that the bishops should be smitten under the fifth rib. (Green's "Short History," p. 512; Gardiner, History of England, VII., 145, 6). Buckingham assassinated a few years before, the Archbishop of St. Andrews murdered a few years later, are significant illustrations from history of what such a pamphlet meant. It does seem to me that if an ideal man could have been confronted with such antagonists, he would have found it necessary to make himself odious to them. At any rate, this is certainly true. (I take the words from Dr. S. E. Gardiner's Introduction to his "Constitutional Documents of the Puritan Revolution," p. xxv.; in 2nd Edition, p. xxvi). "Laud ......was fully penetrated by the conviction that he and his friends must either crush the Calvinists or be crushed by them." He was quite right. When the Calvinists did get into power, they trampled the Church of England into the dust, and silenced her reverend voice for all the seventeen years that their power lasted. And withal, while Laud was the power behind the throne, not one of these chief and dreaded opponents was sent to death. That fate was reserved for Laud himself.
But the impression is fastened upon the mind of an unstudious public, loving rhetoric more than history, and Puritans better than facts, that Archbishop Laud was a bitter, unprincipled persecutor, dealing out fines, imprisonment, mutilations, and the horrors of the pillory to any and all Englishmen that happened to be opposed to his views. Do I exaggerate? Lord Macaulay has made it difficult for me to do so. "We are informed," he says, "by Clarendon, that there was hardly a man of note in the realm who had not personal experience of the harshness and the greediness of the Star-Chamber," and we have been told before that that Court was "guided chiefly by the violent temper of the primate." Well, Lord Clarendon is a great authority. I shall tell you in a moment what he really said. But he did not speak of "harshness" and "greediness," and how interesting it would have been if Lord Macaulay had added in a footnote the same Lord Clarendon's language about the "splendor of [the primate's] piety." I trust that this long prelude may be of some use in clearing the ground. However that may be, I will now bring before you some notes on Laud as a Churchman, Laud as a Statesman, and Laud as a Man.
I. And first of Laud as a Man.
Whatever else his true picture may contain, and I dare not undertake to set before you any full or fair portraiture of his character, it must certainly include these six elements, a frail, almost sickly body, with an insignificant appearance, a keen and eager intellect, a tender, thoughtful heart, a hot and sometimes harsh temper, a tremendous and by consequence imperious will, and a constant habit of deep devotion. I want to dwell somewhat on each of these in turn.
(a) First, then, my hero had not a heroic body. He was a little, insignificant-looking, red-faced man, with little peering eyes (he was near-sighted, I imagine), in fact, a man whose appearance it was easy to caricature and easy to ridicule. The Puritan pamphleteers did it unmercifully. Nay, besides ridiculing his stature and his face and calling him by such titles as "arch-wolf," "arch-devil," and "the devil's most triumphant arch to adorn his victories," these pious adversaries wrote about his birth ("which was of quiet honest people of small means) in language which would now be considered not only mean, but vile. Returning now to the good man's body, he never had strong health. "Laud carried with him from his birth," says Canon Mozley, "one of those constitutions which are always ailing and never failing. He had never good health for long together; and his fierce attacks of illness brought him sometimes to death's door, leaving him, however, as strong for work again as ever, as soon as they were passed. A creaking gate lasts; weakness and iron often go together in the bodily constitution. There are different kinds of health: rude and full; slender and wiry; indoors health, and outdoors health; reading health, and hunting health; the healths capacitating respectively for mental and for bodily work. Laud had the weakly kind of health eminently; a vigorous, obstinate, indoors constitution. His alings, except when they broke out violently, seem only to have operated as a sort of unconscious stimulus and mental mustard-plaster, perpetually keeping him up to his work,--his internal Puritans."
Some touches in his letters have given me a suspicion that he was always tired, as well he might be, with his frail body and his tremendous work. It would hardly be an exaggeration to say that this little man, "in bodily presence weak," like a certain New Testament Archbishop, and having, like him, "the care of all the Churches," had actually set himself to know what was going on everywhere in England, and to see that it went on right. When a weak body is held up to that kind of service by an unflinching spirit, though the spirit feels all that body's pains and fain tings, and that for more than seventy years of life, it may be, as I said, that the body is not heroic, but the man is.
(b) Now I am forced to say something about the intellect of this man. Macaulay calls him "an imbecile," as well as "a ridiculous old bigot," mainly, I suppose, because he took opposite views of certain situations to those which Macaulay himself took two hundred years later. Now a great scholar may be a "bigot" and "ridiculous," but hardly an "imbecile," and my first point is that Laud had scholarship, and indeed became one of the first scholars of his day. "He had a happy education in his childhood," we are told by his first biographer, "under a very severe schoolmaster." (Heylin, quoted by Mozley, p. 111). That severe master begged his pupil to remember him when he should become a great man, and the boy seems to have impressed his schoolmaster in the same way. At sixteen years of age he entered St. John's College, Oxford. At twenty-one he had been graduated with honors and had won a fellowship. At twenty-eight he was ordained by Bishop Young of Rochester, who on examining him "found," we are told, "his study raised above the system and opinions of the age, on the noble foundation of the Fathers, Councils, and the Ecclesiastical Historians, and presaged, that, if he lived, he would be an instrument of restoring the Church from the narrow and private principles of modern times."
Now that was the impression of scholarship and brains and power made by a young man, of a middle-class family of small means, who had thus far no acquaintance at court, no social power, and no "pull" in English politics. He had nothing but what he was in himself and what he had done at Oxford, to give any cause for imagining that he would ever fill any great positions and wield any high authority. I am just going to mention here as illustrating the nature of his mind that besides munificent gifts to St. John's College,--a whole new building, etc.--in after times he founded the Laudian Professorship of Arabic in the University, and introduced there the study of Oriental languages, the foundation of all scholarly progress in the study of the Old Testament. Few men in the England of his day had breadth of scholarship enough, or height of scholarship either, to have done that. But mainly I am going to ask you to take it on my say-so, that Laud's controversial writings against Romanism and other works of his show a large and masterly scholarship. I must, however, bring out a little what the Oxford career meant.
We think of Oxford as High-Church and Royalist to the core of its sentimental heart. Behold! The Oxford of Laud's youth was Puritan and Calvinistic from center to circumference. There were but two fellows of colleges in the whole University, where "fellows" were numbered by scores, that were known to be what Laud's loving friend and protegé and biographer, Heylin, is willing to call "Orthodox." The English Reformers had appealed to the Primitive Church for a model. In other words, Cranmer and Parker had succeeded in guiding the English Reformation (in its professed theory) in the lines of the so-called Oxford Movement of this century. But partly from want of scholarly knowledge of the Primitive Church, and much, very much, more from want of sympathy with it, the main line of the clergy and people of England had swung over into an extreme of Calvinism and Puritanism. Both the great universities were absolutely dominated by that kind of religious idea. Laud came to Oxford, a disciple of the tiny High-Church School that had barely a name to live, and he had to fight every inch of his way. Every honor that he gained was wrung from unwilling authorities. His academic theses maddened the very judges who were to pronounce upon his success. But he did succeed. He not only extorted honors, he disseminated ideas. He made a High-Church party in Oxford, and in fifty years from his graduation the party that Laud had created was so strong that it dominated Oxford in turn, when Laud himself was a forlorn prisoner in the Tower, awaiting execution. The turning-point came perhaps in 1611, when he stood for the Presidency of St. John's College, and got it, being then thirty-eight years old, and as yet unknown at court, save that he had once preached before King James, two years earlier. The Puritan Vice-Chancellor, and all the Puritan party, moved heaven and earth against him. He himself was sick in London and could not so much as write notes to friends. Nevertheless, the election went in his favor, and one of the opposition, in bitter wrath, seized the paper containing the votes and tore it in pieces before the announcement could be made. Then followed (strangely enough) an appeal to the Crown, which only introduced Dr. Laud more fully at court, and was decided (not very strangely) in his favor. In his diary he notes the day of the decision with interest. It was August 29, marked in the English Calendar by the commemoration of the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist, the "Saint John" for whom the College was named. There came to be another coincidence about this association with beheading by and by. I will only add now that the friendless boy who came up to Oxford, as it then was, at sixteen, and did this much in twenty-two years, was no imbecile, but a man of brains and force of character.
Perhaps, while I am talking about his intellect I might mention two especially common charges,--superstition, and a narrow incapacity for understanding the force and fury of the popular movement. I will take the second first. He is supposed to have lived in himself so much, like a scholarly recluse, that he could not take in the idea of how other people thought and felt, especially if they thought and felt just as he was eager that they should not. Let me suggest, on the other hand, that as censor of the press Laud during his Archbishopric had the largest possible opportunity of knowing the symptoms of discontent. He was constantly receiving reports also from every part of the realm, and he was not a scholarly recluse, but the most active man of affairs, probably, in the three Kingdoms. Nor are we without indications that he regarded the royal policy as ruinous. In his correspondence with Strafford, we find both complaining of a mixture of policies, their own, strong and active, and another, slow and temporizing and feeble. "Thorough" was the watchword that these two friends were always interchanging, but hear how Laud speaks of it in a letter written in 1637, three years before the first movement toward his fall from power,--'"What think you of Thorough when there can be such slips in business of consequence?" He is speaking of the blunder of putting Prynne, Burton, and Bastwick in the pillory, and then allowing them to harangue a crowd of applauding friends with seditious and treasonable utterances during the whole time of their supposed punishment, which was a foolish way to punish sedition, and not Laud's way at all. "It is true," Laud presently goes on, "that some men speak as your Lordship writes, but when anything comes to be acted against them there is little or nothing clone, nor shall I ever live to see it otherwise." Strafford returned a playful answer, but Laud was serious and would not joke, this time, though they joked together much, and in fact, so much as to show that Laud had that invaluable sense of humor which is one of the best antidotes to narrowness. "I have given up," he says with a melancholy solemnity,--"1 have given up expecting of Thorough." So too those dreams about which we are presently to say somewhat, are the dreams of a melancholy and anxious man. Here is one which came about four years before his death. I will give it just as it stands in the Archbishop's diary.
"Jan. 24. Friday, At night I dreamed, that my Father (who died 46 years since) came to me; and to my thinking, he was as well and as cheerful, as ever I saw him. He asked me what I did here! And after some Speech, I asked him how long he would stay with me? He answered; he would stay, till he had me away with him. I am not moved with Dreams; yet I thought fit to remember this."
The fact is that people assume that Laud foresaw no evil because he did not turn aside for any. My own reading of him is that he lived for years in fear and heaviness of spirit, but did not feel at liberty at any time to change his course, in order to save his power, his possessions, his freedom, or even his life.
But having given one of his dreams, I must deal with that other charge. His mind had the smallness of superstition. "Well, yes! He does record dream after dream in his diary, between twenty-five and thirty of them in twenty years. Here is one of them:
"A. D. 1626. March 8. Thursday, I came to London. The night following, I dreamed, that I was reconciled to the Church of Rome. This troubled me much; and I wondered exceedingly how it should happen. Nor was I aggrieved with myself [only by Season of the Errors of that Church, but also] upon account of the Scandal, which from my fall would be cast upon many Eminent and Learned Men in the Church of England. (Prynne, presenting extracts from the Diary at the Archbishop's trial, actually quoted this dream, omitting the words which I have placed in brackets!) So being troubled in my dream, I said to myself, that I would go immediately, and, confessing my fault, would beg pardon of the Church of England. Going with this resolution, a certain Priest met me, and would have stopped me. But moved with indignation, I went on my way. And while I wearied myself with these troublesome thoughts I awoke. Herein I felt such strong impressions; that I could scarce believe it to be a Dream."
You will observe that there is no indication of attaching any importance to this. You have heard him say of his dream of his father, "I am not moved with dreams; yet I thought fit to remember this." I will give one more, and then I will moralize a little. In 1635, in the Diary for Oct. 18, we find this:
"I dreamed that I was going out in haste, and that when I came into my outer Chamber, there was my Servant Will: Pennell in the same riding-suit which he had on that day sevennight at Hampton Court with me. Methought I wondered to see him (for I left him sick at home) and asked him, how he did, and what he made there. And that he answered, he came to receive my Blessing; and with that fell on his knees. That hereupon I laid my Hand upon his Head, and Prayed over him, and therewith awaked. When I was up, I told this to them of my Chamber; and added, that I should find Pennell dead or dying. My coach came; and when I came home, I found him past Sense, and giving up the Ghost. So my Prayers (as they had frequently before) commended him to God."
The next year, I must add, he has another dream, which comes true next day, and he sets it all down, but adds "Somniis tamen haud multum fido," "Nevertheless, I don't put much trust in dreams."
It remains that he did write down many dreams, and also such curious happenings as that two robin-redbreasts flew into his study, to which he attaches no hint of a meaning, and again, when his troubles were very dark around him, that he went into his Library and found his own picture fallen from the wall and lying face downwards on the floor, and it made him sad. Was he then a drivelling fool?
I venture to say that he was not, but that in an age when the government of the world by law was hardly dreamed of in comparison with what we know to-day, and when the most scientific minds still regarded God's providences as what we should now call particular and arbitrary, this man, filled with an intense and clinging faith in a heavenly Father, regarded every happening of every day as in some sort a special message of that Father. Please observe that he was separated from the victims of a vulgar superstition in two points. He did not pretend to be able to interpret these messages and map out the future by them (with one exception when his profound impression proved to be a true one), and again, and more especially, when he began to think that God was trying to make him think of impending misfortune and death, he did not meanly try to run away from such things, but only set his house in order so as to be ready to meet them with a prepared soul, if they should come. I fully believe that a Christian man ought sometimes to read the conditions of life as signs in just that way, even in this twentieth century, saying, not "I am sure that such a thing is going to happen," but "I wonder if God wants me to think about such and such a thing, that my circumstances keep suggesting it so curiously. And if He does want me to think about it as a possibility; what in particular would He have me think!" Such was, I believe, the working of the mind of Laud. Certainly he was in his religion preeminently a filial, rather than a meanly fearful, soul.
Before I leave Laud's intellect, I must add one thing more. The number of Littell's "Living Age" for Oct. 31, 1874, reprints from "Eraser's Magazine" a notable article on Archbishop Laud by a Scottish Presbyterian writer. It is of the utmost value as coming from a fair-minded foe, who is sharply opposed to Laud, but cannot swallow Macaulay. I must quote a part of one of his telling paragraphs.
"If," he says, "we were required without going into the details of his history to give some means of measuring the abilities of Laud, to account for the part he played in affairs, and to understand why the Puritans doomed him to death, we should name his correspondence with Strafford. Lord Macaulay exhausts his powers of language in extolling the genius and energy of Strafford, but he does not explain the surprising circumstance that the Jove-like Wentworth should have found his friend of friends in a 'ridiculous old bigot.' It is impossible to read Strafford's letters to Laud without perceiving that; the statesman profoundly respects and implicitly trusts the divine. 'Your grace,' writes Strafford from Ireland, 'whom, I protest, upon my faith, I reverence more than any other subject in the whole world, and to whose judgment I shall sooner lean and trust myself than my own.' " Then, after some more extracts, my writer goes on to this comment on Laud's side of the correspondence. "As we mark the combination of firmness with tenderness, of frankness with delicacy [note those words from an opponent, "tenderness," "delicacy"], of judgment, sound and shrewd, with sympathy and intelligence in his answer, we are forced to believe that Strafford was not fundamentally wrong in his conception of the man."
(c, d, e) I have given extraordinary space to the consideration of Laud's intellect. I think that it was not unreasonable. A man's intellectual character is a very large part of his whole character, especially if he have one of the strongest and best-trained minds of his day, and the Macaulay picture did need so much retouching. I will now proceed a little more rapidly, combining in one view the next three features that I promised to discuss,--the tender, sympathetic heart, the harsh temper, and the imperious will, with its somewhat overbearing and tyrannous habit.
Everybody agrees that Laud had a peculiarly sensitive spirit. There is no need to argue that point. It comes out over and over. The entry in his diary, not long before his downfall, in which he mentions not going out till the evening to avoid the gazing of the crowd, his dreams in which he sees courtiers railing and jeering at him, his anxious jottings about coldness by this one and that one, the language used in his private devotions about difficulties and enemies and slanderers and trouble of many kinds, illustrate this point beyond peradventure. They help also to show that this great man did not live in a fool's paradise for most of his life, as some seem to think. But a very sensitive man may be a very selfish man,--he is singularly apt to be,--and that is Lord Macaulay's view of Laud. He writes him "peevish," "malignant," "quick to feel for his own dignity, slow to sympathize with the sufferings of others." We remark that a man of deeply-ingrained selfishness cannot live and die for a cause with the intense and persistent self-sacrifice that Laud bestowed upon the English Church and nation. Yet it may be retorted, not unreasonably, that a man may be vastly unselfish in that high sense, and yet vastly unsympathetic toward human suffering and sorrow in the individual cases around him. Laud lived for a cause, not for himself. No doubt of that. He was magnificently generous to Oxford University, and to St. John's College in particular, when it would serve the great cause that he had at heart. No doubt about that, either. But I look for something more to show real human sympathy with human hearts, and I think I find it. The Diary shows him tender of his poor about Lambeth. They gathered in hundreds to take farewell of him when he went to his trial. ("As I went to my barge," says the Diary, "hundreds of my poor neighbors stood there, and prayed for my safety and return to my house. For which I bless God and them.") He was tender of his native town of Beading, and especially for the poor of the town. His first act, when he became a parish priest, was to set apart out of his living a provision for the care of twelve poor men. As a minister of State, he reformed the English system of taxation, so that it should fall less heavily upon the poor and more upon the rich, and of course this was a source of fearful unpopularity and abuse. (Laud was a sort of a Seventeenth Century Lloyd-George. But, alas! he came down too soon!) So, too, he befriended an old apple-woman who had been forbidden by the Lord Mayor of London to ply her trade in St. Paul's Churchyard, over which, as it happened, his Worship had no jurisdiction. Laud thought the matter not too small to bring his Worship before the Privy Council for, and warned him to mind his own business for the future. No sympathy here for pompous Lord Mayors breaking the law, but perhaps some for the apple-woman. Again, he was tender of his servants. We have seen how he dreamed of the sick man of his household coining and asking for his blessing. In a like spirit we read in the Diary his note on the death of his steward: "Mr. Adam Forbes, my Ancient, Loving, and Trusty Servant, then my Steward, after he had served me full 42 years, dyed, to my great loss and grief."
Again, he could be sympathetic with virulent opponents. We saw how a Fellow of St. John's College tore up the scrutiny-paper, to try to prevent Laud's election. What do you suppose a "narrow," "peevish," and "malignant" man, and above all, an "imbecile old bigot," would have done about it? What Laud did was to hold a court to try the offence, as was proper, and after it had been properly condemned by authority, then to come down and embrace the offender, and propose to forgive and forget. He not only thoroughly reconciled the man, but eventually got him Church promotion, married him to his (Laud's) niece, and at last made him his successor in that very office of President of St. John's College.
Again, I shall instance Laud's two great court friendships, with Buckingham and Strafford. No one with a reasonable eye for indications can fail to see that these were not mere political alliances, but tender personal attachments, both of them. "Quick to feel for his own dignity," was he? Certainly he was, and he had some to feel for. That sensitive old man went to the block with a splendid dignity as well as a child-like faith. "Slow to. feel for the sufferings of others," we are told. Ah! but when he saw another man suffer, his dignity broke down. When he lifted up his hands to perform the last office of priest and friend for his beloved Strafford, asking his blessing as he passed beneath the window of his prison, on his way to execution, the aged Archbishop--and old age, you know, is apt to shrink into itself and care less than of yore for others' joys or griefs--that old man, who was going himself so cheerfully to such a trial a little later, fainted dead away from overmastering anguish at the thought of the cruel wrong done this, his friend.
Of the unshakableness of this sensitive spirit I am not going to say much. Everybody knows that he had it. In the very striking words of the Scottish writer whom I have quoted before, "He made his soul like unto a wedge!" Only I ask you to think how much that means for a man who felt unpopularity with a peculiar depth of misery, and who knew that in living for others as he felt bound to live, he was simply courting unpopularity. Hear him answering Strafford's wish that in his office of Archbishop of Canterbury he might have "many and happy days." "But truly, my lord," says the new primate, "I look for neither: not for many, for I am in years, and I have had a troublesome life; not for happy, for I have no hope to do the good I desire." That is the martyr's spirit, of a truth, giving up life and happiness for an object, while inwardly assured that one cannot in this world's way of measuring, accomplish the object after all.
But while a tremendous will is a splendid gift of God to any man, and the cultivation of such under a Christian conscience in a great virtue, yet such a gift is apt to betray its possessor into some unworthy using thereof. We must look at the charges of harsh temper and overbearing and tyrannous disregard of individual liberty. Partly I have confessed them. The Archbishop used to confess them himself. He was too deep a Christian not to have made a study of his own faults. He knew himself irritable and hasty, and tried to learn more of self-government. "Lord, give me patience," is a common entry, as I recall my impressions of the Diary. But, partly, I think that the common picture is much overdrawn. Laud was vilely slandered and infamously abused during all his career as a statesman. If he was ugly toward his enemies, it would inevitably appear in the intimacies of his Diary. Behold! the worst things he has to say about them are such as I can give you in the two following extracts, one preceding, and one following, his promotion to the Archbishopric: "(1632) Feb. 28, Thursday, Mr. Chancellour of London, Dr. Duck (Laud was then Bishop of London), brought me word, how miserably I was slandered by some Separatists. I pray God give me patience and forgive them."
"(1633) Nov. 13, Wednesday......about the beginning of this month the Lady Davis Prophesied against me, that I should very few Days out-live the Fifth of November. And a little after that, one Green came into the Court at St. James's with a great sword by his Side, swearing the King should do him Justice against me. All the wrong I ever did this Man, was, that being a poor Printer, I procured him of the Company of the Stationers 5 pounds a Year during his Life. God preserve me and forgive him. He was committed to Newgate."
"Committed to Newgate," you will observe, simply to prevent him from carrying out an avowed purpose of assassination. Undoubtedly, in an age of personal government, when about every really great man that one reads of was high-handed and overbearing, according to the notions of to-day, this great man was so too. Oliver Cromwell was quite as much so in later days. John Knox and John Calvin had been quite as much so in a time gone by, each according to the utmost of his opportunity. It is interesting right here to ask how Laud comes to be painted blacker in these respects than other men, with whom he is simply in close parallel. Well, first, it is because Laud was identified with the Stuarts, and the Stuart cause has been a hopelessly lost cause in England, with the exception of a little space of less than thirty years, ever since Laud was put to death. That has segregated him from English sympathies. Few people have even wished to do him justice.
But another and truly glorious cause of his ill name is this,--he was a universal radical reformer. It should be remembered, but is always forgotten, that the punishments inflicted by courts and councils in which Laud figured were all inflicted upon law-breakers. They seem to be supposed in these days to be specimens of mere malicious mischief dealt 'out to all persons whom the Archbishop did not like. Far from it! They were all penalties of broken law or injured right. But certain laws and certain rights were very unpopular in the England of those days. Take, first, the matter of Church property, in which Laud interested himself very keenly. In Tudor days Henry VIII. had set the example of spoliation by plundering the monasteries and allowing a large part of the spoil to go to the landed proprietors, who indeed in many cases simply helped themselves to the material of abandoned monastic buildings without the form of a grant. Under Edward VI. the Churches nearly all over the land were despoiled of all property which the rising Protestantism of the time could conveniently label as "superstitious," and that was much. This process, sternly checked for a while under Mary, was renewed under Elizabeth. What was the consequence by the time the Stuarts came to the throne! Why, the landed gentry had come to feel that the Churches and largely the Church property of rural England were in their hands to do with about as they liked. The "squires" were the natural trustees and protectors of the Church's property in the rural district. It had come to pass that they had largely lost the sense of their proper responsibilities as guardians of sacred things, and had become plunderers with the air of proprietors. If a rich man wanted a larger house and saw the Parish Church only half filled, he was ready to pull down a transept and build his new wing with the stone. If he found the Parish Church unreasonably rich in massive old silverware and elegant vestments, he would take the silver for his sideboard, and the velvet, or satin, or cloth of gold for his lady's gown. The Church had been the guardian of morals for the nation, also, in older times, and the Post-Reformation Church was undoubtedly a church not feared as it had been, but much weakened and despised; and a lamentable decay of morals had followed. There was a reign of lawlessness all through the land, and Laud was determined to bring in a reign of law instead. King James, with a keen Scottish shrewdness, detected in him a "restless" spirit, and refused to promote him. Laud was just the sort of man who in a "prohibition State," like Maine, would try to force the prohibitory law in summer hotels and among gentlemen, as well as in back streets and piggeries. I have already mentioned Macaulay's statement quoted from Clarendon, "that there was hardly a man of note in the realm who had not had personal experience of the harshness and greediness of the Star Chamber." One is left to suppose that these persons of note were guilty of no other offense than having a Puritan conscience. I take pleasure, therefore, in quoting Clarendon's own words:
"Persons of honor and great quality of the court and of the country were every day cited into the High Commission court"--that is Clarendon's real testimony--"upon the fame of their incontinence, or other scandal in their lives, and were there prosecuted to their shame and punishment."
Naturally, such persons didn't like Laud. Sad to say, they appealed successfully to Puritan prejudice against him. The first beginning of Laud's downfall after his arrest (December 18, 1640) is (December 20) his being fined 500 pounds for wrongful imprisonment of a nobleman. The nobleman had been notoriously guilty of long-continued adulterous union with a lady of rank. (I find in S. R. Gardiner's "History of England" (VIII., 121-2) a remarkable testimony in this connection. "It is possible that Laud might have carried his point of reducing the clergy to discipline, if he had left the laity alone. It is possible that he might have succeeded in meting out equal law to the rich and poor, if he had left the Puritan clergy to worship according to their conscience. As it was, he irritated all classes in turn." [Italics are mine, not Dr. Gardiner's.] According to this view, Laud died for meting out equal law to rich and poor. Let that be remembered of him!)
Returning for a moment to Church property matters, let me give you one example of "Laud's tyranny." A Mr. Freshfield, Recorder of Salisbury, was fined 500 pounds--which may be even $10,000 in present-day value, I suppose--for so small an offence as running his cane through a stained-glass window in a Church, containing a representation (of God the Father symbolized as an old man) which offended his conscience. "Enormously disproportionate fine," says even one of my own party, an English Churchman, the late Canon Perry, of Lincoln Cathedral. I ask you to stop and think. Suppose the existence of Raphael's Sistine Madonna was seriously threatened by a fanatical Protestant sect in Saxony. Would it be reasonable and just to deal with such a danger by mild measures? If rich men were in it, should they not be well assured that no moderate fines would be their portion, if they were caught mutilating one of the world's chief treasures? Well, look at the Salisbury case again. The art of the medieval glass workers is hopelessly lost. A little of it, nay, a good deal of it, still remains in England in this reign of Charles I., and Puritan fanaticism threatens it all with irreparable destruction. Is it vindictive, malignant, bigoted, to make an awful example of a man of education, wealth, and position, an officer of the law and of the Crown, who is found to have destroyed in wilful hatred a piece of public property that can never be restored, at a time when a large part of uneducated, lawless, and irresponsible England is hesitating over the question whether to make an onslaught on all such property, or no? Laud did not succeed. There are hardly more than a few fragments of medieval glass left in England to-day. But my sympathies are with him. The glass ought to have been saved. (But after all I find in Gardiner (History of England, VII, 148) this statement: "In truth, the enormous fines which have left such a mark on the history of this reign [of Charles I.] were seldom exacted, and became little more than a conventional mode in which the judges expressed their horror at the offense, except so far as they may have been intended to bring the offender to an early confession of his fault.")
I suspect that there was one more cause of Laud's reputation for harshness and tyranny. He was of a middle-class family. It is inconceivable that he had not been subjected to the galling combination of condescension, insult, and neglect, with which the unconscientious great people in any, even a republican, form of society, always treat the people that are smaller. I think that he suffered from the meanness of the upper-class people in his youth, and learned to know their characteristic faults thoroughly and detest them profoundly. I do not think it was revenge. I am sure he was too good a Christian for that. But certainly when he had come to be a great man himself, he loved to take down a certain sort of great people, and he did it with immense power. He sent for the Lord Chief Justice of England, himself an elderly man, and a man of strong nature, to come before- the Privy Council, and there scolded him for a certain disregard of the royal authority. It was no weakling, who even in that coign of vantage could send the Lord Chief Justice away in tears. But it was almost always that sort of people, the great people of England, that Laud treated in that way. You will remember the Lord Mayor and the apple-woman. On the other hand, the author of a bitter contemporary pamphlet, The True Character of an Untrue Bishop, says of him, "He observeth the Scripture in the spirit of it, useth his greatest adversaries with most meekness, I mean, of the separation of the nonconformists." (This is quoted by dear old Thomas Fuller in his "Church History of Britain" (VI., 299). The Puritan writer winds off his sentence thus: "Concluding that diversity of opinion will beget their ruin and establish him in his station." Truly a prophetic, word. Let me note here a contrast. Laud sends the Lord Chief Justice away vowing through tears that he has been "choked with a pair of lawn sleeves." Laud has his arch-enemy Prynne before him, and when the Court condemns the man to imprisonment without books, and without pens, ink, and paper, protests that such a punishment would be barbarous, and secures the remission of that part of the sentence. To tell how Prynne treated Laud in prison in the Tower would make another interesting picture, but I have not space for it.) He did set down great men very hard, when they came before him as offenders. He was gentle to the small. That is a noble kind of bad temper, certainly, if one must have a bad temper at all.
(f) I said that to make up any fair presentation of the man, one must include a deep and constant piety. I should be glad to dwell much on that part of our Archbishop's character, and it would be simple justice. Macaulay, indeed, found somewhere a statement that in the correspondence of Laud and Strafford no sense of duty to God or man ever appears as a motive, and he defends that statement. Friends of justice point out that here or there in that correspondence occurs mention of good works such as ordinary Christians do from such motives. The ready answer is that in the case of Laud and Strafford no such motive is to be credited to them unless it is expressly mentioned. To such a critic nothing can be proved but that which he desires to see. If, on the other hand, a lover of Laud says that his Diary shows him to have been one who walked with God in a peculiar, filial intimacy, all through his career, that again must be somewhat unconvincing, unless the Diary can be laid before the inquirer's eye in all its long self-revelation. I venture, therefore, to rest my whole case as to the character of the martyr's piety on the story of the martyrdom itself. A man cannot walk with God serenely, in a tender, familiar intimacy, on the scaffold where the headsman is waiting for him with ax and block, unless the man has had much practice in walking with God, and learned the lessons of a deep experience, in some easier time gone by.
The day of the Archbishop's death was January 10. Always an observer of coincidences, he could not but note with a certain pleasure that it was the day of commemoration of Saint William, Archbishop of Bourges, in the Calendar of the French Church. S. William had had his Puritans, too, the Albigenses of the twelfth century, and had distinguished himself by refusing to .join in persecuting them to the death after the evil fashion of his day. Our Archbishop had slept soundly till his servants came to wake him,--"a most assured sign," says his biographer, "of a soul prepared."
"In the morning he was early at his prayers," says Heylin, "at which he continued till Penningion, Lieutenant of the Tower, and other public officers, came to conduct him to the scaffold, which he ascended with so brave a courage, such a cheerful countenance, as if he had mounted rather to behold a triumph than be made a sacrifice; and came not then to die, but be translated. And though some rude and uncivil people reviled him, as he passed along, with opprobrious language, as loath to let him go to the grave in peace, yet it never discomposed his thoughts nor disturbed his patience. For he had profited so well in the school of Christ, that, 'when he was reviled, he reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not, but committed his cause to Him that judgeth righteously.'"
What the Archbishop had to say to the people was carefully written down. Indeed, it is recorded that after reading it, he turned to a reporter, and begged him particularly not to put forth an inaccurate account. He might not have read the paper exactly, but by the carefully written word he wished to be judged. "I beseech you, let me have no wrong done me." "Sir, you shall not," said the reporter. "If I do so, let it fall upon my own head. I pray God, have mercy upon your soul." "I thank you," the martyr said. "I did not speak with any jealousy, as if you would do so, but only, as a poor man going out of the world, it is not possible for me to keep to the words of my paper, and a phrase might do me wrong." Here, then, are some extracts from that paper by which Laud asks so anxiously to be judged.
"Good People,--This is an uncomfortable time to preach; yet I shall begin with a text of Scripture, Hebrews xii. 2: 'Let us run with patience the race that is set before us: looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, Who, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the Cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.'
"I have been long in my race; and how I have looked to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of my faith, He best knows. I am now come to the end of my race; and here I find the Cross, a death of shame. But the shame must be despised, or no coining to the right hand of God. Jesus despised the shame for me, and God forbid but that I should despise the shame for Him.
"I am going apace, as you see, towards the Red Sea, and my feet are now upon the very brink of it; an argument, I hope, that God is bringing me into the Land of Promise; for that was the way through which He led His people.
"But before they came to it, He instituted a passover for them. A lamb it was, but it must be eaten with sour herbs. I shall obey, and labor to digest the sour herbs as well as the lamb. And I shall remember it is the Lord's passover. I shall not think of the herbs, nor be angry with the hand that gathereth them; but look up only to Him who instituted that, and governs these; for men can have no more power over me than what is given them from above.
"I am not in love with this passage through the Red Sea, for I have the weakness and infirmities of flesh and blood plentifully in me. And I have prayed with my Saviour, ut transiret calix iste, that this cup of red wine might pass from me. But if not, God's will, not mine, be done. And I shall most willingly drink of this cup, as deep as He pleases, and enter into this sea, yea, and pass through it, in the way that He shall lead me.".....
So the speech began. Very much that the Archbishop was greatly concerned to say to the people of England I shall pass over. He was moved to show by many examples that servants of God were very liable to suffer misrepresentation and persecution and death. He had a carefully prepared defense to offer for himself. But I am concerned here with nothing but his relations with God. So I pass on to the closing words.
"But I have done. I forgive all the world, all and every of those bitter enemies which have persecuted me; and humbly desire to be forgiven, of God first, and then of every man. And so I heartily desire you to join in prayer with me.
"O eternal God and merciful Father, look down upon me in mercy, in the riches and fulness of all Thy mercies. Look upon me, but not till Thou hast nailed my sins to the Cross of Christ, not till Thou hast bathed me in the blood of Christ, not till I have hid myself in the wounds of Christ; that so the punishment due unto my sins may pass over me. And since Thou art pleased to try me to the uttermost, I most humbly beseech Thee, give me now, in this great instant, full patience, proportionable comfort, and a heart ready to die for Thine honour, the King's happiness, and this Church's preservation. And my zeal to these (far from arrogancy be it spoken) is all the sin (human frailty excepted, and all the incidents thereto), which is yet known to me in this particular, for which I come now to suffer; I say, in this particular of treason. But otherwise, my sins are many and great; Lord, pardon them all, and those especially (whatever they are), which have drawn down this present judgment upon me. And when Thou hast given me strength to bear it, do with me as seems best in Thine own eves. Amen."
Then followed the Lord's Prayer, and then he set himself to die. So far we have seen his formal preparation, the things which he carefully arranged with himself beforehand. The things which follow are more significant, because they are things unrehearsed. So many people had been allowed to get up on the scaffold that there was scant accommodation for the tragedy to be enacted there. The temper of the born manager of men, who could not abide to see anything botched, and was deeply accustomed to ordering people and scolding people, flashes out for a moment. "I thought there would have been an empty scaffold, that I might have had room to die." The complaint was felt to be just, and a space was cleared. Then there came a manifestation of that other side of the man, his tenderness for the poor and the unregarded, that had marked him all through his life. He saw broad chinks between the boards of the scaffold, and that some people had crowded in under the very place of the block. He would have these removed, or else have the crevices filled with saw-dust, "lest my innocent blood should fall upon the heads of the people."
God gave the martyr a chance to show what spirit he was of, by sending an adversary at the last to catch him unaware. An Irishman, Sir John Clotworthy, a Puritan fanatic, of the type that is known to us under the name of "Orangeman," assailed him rudely to show before the crowd how little this ecclesiastic knew of true religion and divine grace, "What," he asked, "is the comfortablest saying which a dying man would have -in his mouth!" "Cupio dissolvi et esse cum Christo," was the reply. It was a Latin version of "I desire to depart and to be with Christ"; but the martyr, with the flashing quickness of his mind still unabated at the age of seventy-one, seized on that word, "dissolvi" ("to be taken to pieces") of the Latin Vulgate, so touchingly applicable to his departing. "That is a good desire," said the inquisitor, "but there must be a foundation for that divine assurance." "No man can express it," was the quiet reply. "It is to be found within." The intruder was still urgent. "It is founded upon a word, nevertheless, and that word should be known." "That word," was the firm answer,--"That word is the knowledge of Jesus Christ and that alone." "But he saw that this was but an indecent interruption, and that there would be no end to the trouble," says the biographer, "and so he turned away from him to the executioner, as the gentler and discreeter person; and, putting some money into his hand, without the least distemper or change of countenance, lie said, 'Here, honest-friend, God forgive thee, and do thine office upon me in mercy." Then did he go upon his knees, and the executioner said that he should give a sign for the blow to come; to which he answered, "I will, but first let me fit myself.'"
Then the martyr knelt down to say his last prayer on earth. It was no artfully premeditated thing. A great theologian, like Laud, would never have allowed a written prayer to pass his criticism, in which the first sentences were addressed to the Divine Son, Jesus Christ, and the last with an unconscious change of the heart's attitude, to the Divine Father "for Jesus Christ's sake." It is the unveiling before us of a devout heart taken off its guard, in the utter simplicity of its most natural, untutored speech.
"Lord, I am coming as fast as I can. I know I must pass through the shadow of death before I can come to see Thee. But it is but umbra mortis, a mere shadow of death, a little darkness upon nature; but thou by Thy merits and passion hast broken through the jaws of death. So, Lord, receive my soul, and have mercy upon me; and bless this kingdom with peace and plenty, and with brotherly love and charity, that there may not be this effusion of Christian blood amongst them for Jesus Christ His sake, if it be Thy will."
"Then he bowed his head upon the block, 'down as upon a bed,' and prayed silently awhile." So says the biographer. "No man knows what it was he said in that last prayer. After that he said out loud, 'Lord, receive my soul,' which was the sign to the executioner, and at one blow he was beheaded."
"Near the sword, near to God," is a saying of another martyr Bishop, Ignatius of Antioch in the second Christian century. I think that it applies to the story of the death of William Laud. Different minds will weigh its details with different results. For myself, I feel that this is one of those narratives where heaven is opened. We cannot see in ourselves, but it is our privilege to go down on our knees, and mark how the glory of the divine light falls on the face of one who sees the vision of God.
III. And so I pass to Laud as a Churchman. It was the side of his development that Laud himself cared most for, and I venture to say that it is the side where he will eventually appear at his very best.
The Reformation of the Church of England had been professedly a studious and careful return to the principles and belief and practice of the Catholic Church as it came from our Lord Jesus Christ and His first Apostles. Some of the Anglican leaders, notably Cranmer, really meant this profession seriously. They studied Fathers and Councils profoundly, and allowed their minds to be guided seriously by what they found. Others did not mean much by such professions, did not study much from old sources, and when they met with anything from thence that they did not like, promptly threw it overboard, as rubbish unworthy of any serious consideration. It is never to be forgotten that the sixteenth century saw the rise of a new system of religious thought, of which whatever else may be said, this at least is certainly true, that no Christians had ever held it anywhere in the course of the first thousand years of Christian history. There is no historical trace of it among the Christians to whom the New Testament Scriptures were first given. If therefore those Scriptures meant such a system, the meaning was so deeply esoteric that it was known to no Christian persons for more than a thousand years. This new system in religious thought, now known as Protestantism, came in from the continent in the particular form of Calvinism, and gained an immense hold upon English Christians. When Laud arose, with a profound conviction that the Christian religion of the first Christian centuries must be substantially the religion of Jesus Christ,--and I myself hold that idea to be axiomatic,--he found nearly the whole body of the Anglican clergy careless or Calvinist. Give him his due. He minded carelessness, laziness, and lowness of character a good deal more than what lie esteemed to be error in thought when judging of an individual. But he believed that if Christ's own religion were to be saved in England, the Church of England must be brought back to the model of primitive antiquity in three points.
(1) First, she must accept the constitution of the Church as divine, and as including government by Apostles, under whatever name, the existence of a ministerial priesthood, and the transmission of gifts of sacerdotal power, as well as of authority, by Apostles alone.
(2) Second, she must hold to the original Christian conception of the Sacraments, as divinely ordered means of grace.
(3) Third, in pursuance of this last idea, she must order her religious services and the furnishing of her churches (the very building itself being of a sacramental order), so as to impress, rather than conceal or contradict, the sacramental idea.
These were principles of the Primitive Church. They were principles of the Anglican Reformation in its great official pronouncements. The Church of England was actually drifting fast away from them, when Laud was raised up as an instrument, and an effectual instrument, for her salvation.
I cannot go into details at all, nor show you what serious and shaping consequences to the English-speaking world were involved hi that seemingly trivial struggle to restore the Altar to a place and a condition of sacredness in English churches. Laud felt keenly the close connection between the outward and the inward. "The Romanists," he writes, "have been apt to say, the houses of God could not be suffered to lie so nastily, as in some places they have done, were the true worship of God observed in them, or did the people think that such it were. It is true the inward worship of the heart is the great service of God, and no service acceptable without it; but the external worship of God in His church is the great witness to the world that our heart stands right in that service of God." A quaint illustration of the same idea he gave, with sudden wit, in a Visitation of the Church of St. Peter, Cornhill, in London. The preacher had discoursed of the painfulness of a faithful ministry, instancing the popular derivation of Diákonos (from Kónos), "one who runs through the dust" on his master's errand. The church, one of the distinguished and well-endowed churches of London, was seen to be "ill-repaired without, and slovenly kept within." The bishop delivered a charge to his clergy after service, with this extemporaneous addition,--"I am sorry to meet here with so true an etymology of diaconus, for here is both dust and dirt for a deacon (or a priest either) to work in; yea, it is dust of the worst kind, caused from the ruins of this ancient house of God, so that it pitieth His servants to see her in the dust." (This story is given by Fuller, Church History of Britain, VI., 303.)
It would be unjust, too, not to mention his zeal for the restoration of unity to. the Church of Christ, and his largeness, rare in that age, in viewing that subject. "I cannot but wonder," he says in a sermon at the opening of Parliament, "what words St. Paul, were he now alive, would use, to call back unity into dismembered Christendom. For my part, death were easier to me than to see the face of the Church of Christ scratched and torn till it bleeds in every part, as it doth this day; and the coat of Christ, which one was spared by soldiers because it was seamless, rent everyway, and which is the misery of it, by the hand of the priest......Good God! What preposterous thrift is this in men, to sew up every small rent in their own coat, and not care what rents they not only suffer, but make, in the coat of Christ! What is it! Is Christ only thought fit to wear a torn garment? Or can we think that the Spirit of unity, which is one with Christ, will not depart to seek warmer clothing? Or, if He be not gone already, why is there not unity, which is wherever He is! Or, if He but gone from other parts of Christendom, in any case, for the Passion, and in the Bowels of Jesus Christ, I beg it, make stay of Him here in our parts." "The Catholic Church of Christ," he says again, "is neither Home nor a conventicle. Out of that there is no salvation, I easily confess it. But out of Rome there is, and out of a conventicle too; salvation is not shut up into such a narrow conclave. In this ensuing discourse, therefore, I have endeavored to lay open those wider gates of the Catholic Church confined to no age, time, or place; nor knowing any bounds but that faith which was once'--and but once for all--'delivered to the saints.' " Laud was a High-Churchman. He was also large.
The charge of a tendency to Romanism in himself, or to make Romanists of others, is to a scholar almost too absurd for mention. Protestants are apt to think that a genuine Anglicanism must be a position of unstable equilibrium, constantly leaning, often tottering, many times falling, Romeward. Let me point to one good telling fact. I will give as my authority an article by Mr. Gladstone on The Evangelical Movement; its Parentage, Progress, and Issue, in the British Quarterly Review for July, 1879. The main secessions from England to Rome in the period between 1840 and 1860 were almost without exception from among Low Churchmen, from men brought up in unmitigated Protestantism. The noted men, Newman, Manning, the Wilberforces, and such, were all of that training. The sons of the old High Church families,--Pusey, the Kebles, the Mozleys, and many more,--stood their ground to a man. And the presence of that sturdy element in the Church of England is due to Laud. It marks his life a success. It is his triumph.
[Mr. Gladstone speaks of a pamphlet enumerating three thousand seceders. Some of these, he says, "were persons brought, for the first time under strong religious influences. Some cases may have been due to personal idiosyncrasies; some to a strong reaction from pure unbelief; some came from Presbyterianism; the merest handful from Nonconformity, or on the other side, from the old-fashioned Anglican precinct, represented by men like Archbishop Howley, Bishop Blomfield, or Dr. Hook. Very many, and especially among women, made the change through what may be called pious appetite, without extended knowledge or careful inquiry. But there was a large and still, more, an important class, not included within any of these descriptions; principally clerical, but not without a lay fraction, made up of men competent in every way by talent, attainment, position, character, to exercise a judgment.....They draw scores, aye, hundreds of others in their train; and of all these leaders it must be said that, as they proceeded from Oxford (so to speak) to Rome, so they had already marched from Clapham to Oxford." I may add my testimony that of the men and women of whom I have had personal knowledge, who have gone from our Communion to the Roman, every one was brought up in non-Episcopalian Protestantism, or in the atmosphere of the Low Church Party.]
"That we have our Prayer Book," says Canon Mozley, "our Altar, even our Episcopacy itself, we may, humanly speaking, thank Laud ...... That our Articles have not a Genevan sense tied to them and are not an intolerable burden to the Church, is due to Laud. ..... . Laud saved the English Church ...... The English Church in her Catholic aspect is a memorial to Laud."
So in Mr. Gladstone's notable Eomanes Lecture, delivered before Oxford University in October, 1892, having remarked that "Of Laud as a Churchman it ought to ttave been remembered, at least in extenuation, that he was the first Primate of All England in many generations who proved himself by his acts to be a tolerant theologian," Mr. Gladstone emphasized the fact that "After obtaining hold of the helm, he gave to the Anglican polity and worship what was in the main the impress of his own mind; that though he sank to the ground in the conflict of the times, which he had much helped to exasperate," yet "his scheme of Church polity, for his it largely was, grew up afresh out of his tomb, and took effect in law at the Restoration.
"Laud as a Churchman has lasted. He lives to-day. His opponents have mostly disappeared from off the earth. They have left consequences, but no representatives. Laud has both."