Imágenes de página
[ocr errors]

Iu avother part of his history, Vol. I., p. 184., bis Lordship says, ' In the house of Commons were many persons of wisdom · and gravity, who being possessed of great and plentiful fortunes, though they were undevoted enough to the court, had

all imaginable duty to the king, and affection to the govern: ment established by law; and without doubt the MAJOR · Part of that body consisted of men who had no mind to

break the peace of the Kingdom, or to make any consi

derable alteration in the government of church or state.' · The general temper and humour of the kingdom,' he elsewhere assures us,

was little inclined to the Papist and less to the Puritan. The murmur and discontent that there was, appeared to be against the excess of power exercised by the crown, and supported by the judges in Westminster Hall.' Towgood, in the Essay to which we have referred, has assemoled a mass of collateral evidence to the same effect, we shall juote only one paragraph more, which might seem to be decisive; and it is given with all the authorities

• They were, therefore, gentlemen, members of the Church of England, who began the quarrel with the king, and first | drew the sword against him. T'he Earl of Essex, the parliament's general, and whose very name raised an army, was episcopal. Lord Clarendon says of him, that he was rather displeased with the person of the archbishop, and some other bishops, than indevoted to the function ; and was as much devoted as any man to the book of Common Prayer, and obliged all his servants to be constantly present with him at it. of the admiral who seized the king's ships and employed

them in the service of the parliament, the same noble bistorian · says, he never discovered any aversion to episcopacy, but

professed the contrary. Sir John Hotham, who shut the gates of Hull against the king, and was the first man proclaimed a traitor by him, he declares to have been very well affected to, and to have unquestioned reverence for the government, both in church and state : the same of Sir Hen. Vane, and of Lenthall the Speaker; and of Pym, a person of the greatest influence in the house, that he professed to be very entire to the doctrine and discipline of the church. Nay, we are told, by the same great author, that ; all those who were countenanced by the Earl of Essex, or in

his confidence, were such as desired no other alteration in the church or government, but only of the persons who acted in it. And Mr. Baxter says, That the great officers in Essex's army were CONFORMISTS ; and some of them su zealous for the liturgy and diocesans, that they would not hear a man as a minister that had not Episcopal ordination. It is also known that a noted clergyman, Dr. Williams, Archbishop of { York, accepted a commission from the parliament, and went ! into the army,* (and did, in person, assist the rebels, as Lord • Clarendon expresses it, to take a castle of the king's, in which ! there was a garrison, and which was taken by a long siege.) ! So that it is, I think, past dispute with reasonable mer, if ! there was any fault in opposing the king's measures and ? taking up arms against him, it must be imputed to the Church ! of England, for they were first and the deepest in the quarrel.' • Burnet's Memor. V 287. Clarend. Vol. I., p. 223., Vol. IV., !

p. 564., Vol. II., p. 389, Vol. III., p. 214., Vol. IV., p. 620., { Vol. I., p. 63, Vol. III., p. 462., Vol. II., p. 350.'

p That the death of the king was either compassed or sanctioned by the Puritans, if by that term any religious denomination or body of men be intended, is an assertion equally gratuitous and scandalous. The presbyterians and the body of the city,' says Bishop Burnet, 'were much against it; and were everywhere ? fasting and prayiog for the king's preservation. It was the 'crime of but a few hot-headed enthusiasts, or ambitious sol-" ? diers. Many of the most considerable dissenters did even ? then, when it was not so safe to do it as it is now, openly

declared against it both in their sermons and writings. This ! is what in justice cannot be denied them,' and Clarendon testifies, that the nation and parliament were most innocent of his death ; which was the act only of some few ambitious

l ! and bloody men.' Further, a solemn protest was drawn up ? and signed by about fifty of the principal presbyterian ministers, which was accompanied by a very bold remonstrance in a letter to the general and council of war, dated Jan. 18, 1648, and delivered to his excellency by some of the ministers. (Vide Towgood's Essay, pp. 177-181.) And, finally, Doctor Lewis ? du Moulin, history professor in Oxford, who lived through ! those times, says, “ That no party of men, as a religious ę budy, were the actors of this tr gedy, but it was the conį trivance of an army; which was a medley and collection of all

parties that were discontented; some courtiers, some presbyteriuns, some episcopalians; few of any sect, but most of none, or else of the religion of Hobbes ; not to mention the

Papists, who had the greatest hand in it of all." Neal, ! Vol. III., p. 551.'

Will not the curate of St. John's, Hackney, discover in this monstrous coalition of opposite sects, another coincidence to assist bis parallel between those times and the present, and to proye the identity of the spirit and object which actuated the

[ocr errors]

He was commander in chief of the parliament forces in North Wales.

Puritans of that age with those wbich now actuate the fanatical members of the British and Foreign Bible Society? Yes, doubtless; and in the next Number of the British Critic, he, or his friend Nolan, will notice with pleasure the fresh testimony which is borne by this Velvet Cushion, to the important fact, notwithstanding the schismatical and methodistical sentiments which may be found in the volume. We congratul te the Author on the honours which, we are persuaded, must await his brow. Those Puritans alsó made a stir about the Bible; but their only design was, we see, to subvert the Establishment. Religion was the cloak which the conspirators wore; therefore, whosoever now wears the cloak, conceals a dagger, and is to be marked as an assassin. It was upon religious principle that they rebelled against their king ;-upon religious principle he was murdered. O! beware of religious principles, and keep to the peaceable tenour of established forms. Of this nature, without any forced perversion of our Author's meaning, appear, to us, to be the tendency of bis remarks; and we deem them the more reprehensible, because he knew that insidious attempts have recently been made with malignant industry, to distort the features of the Puritan character, and to exhibit the caricature as a portrait of the spirit of modern Dissent, which is represented as the hidden spring and vital principle of the Bible Society.

We have purposely avoided discussing the political sentiments r connected with this subject; but may just observe that to term

the stand made against the arbitrary and illegal measures of the king, rebellion, in any sense which excludes from the word the idea of virtue and of sacred duty, betrays either a strange ignorance of historical fact, or a secret disaffection, to the constitution of our country. It was a rebellion produced by a similar cause, prompted by the same principles, and differing only in its more glorious and permanent results, that effected the Revolution of 1688. In this sense of the term, it has always been the proud distinction of Englishmen to be rebels. By such rebellion, they have achieved all that has rendered their country an object of admiration to surrounding nations, the school and the sanctuary of Europe ; her very soil possessing an inherent efficacy, by means of which every one that presses it becomes free. By rebellion, if we must so apply the term, was Magna Charta wrung from King John; and by rebellion was our second charter, the Bill of Rights, obtained. Our Established Church herself was a rebel against the Pope ;--and Luther, and Wickliffe, and Huss, were rebels ;--and what is still worse, they were religious rebels ;---rebelled for conscience sake, and what then could mend them ? 'But we protest altogether against

' the use of a term of so inyidious and alarming a sound to loyal ears; we contend only that in all these cases it would be no

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

less applicable than in relation to the Puritans. As to the subject of loyalty, we beg leave to refer those of our readers whose ideas are not very definite on this point, to the luminous eloquence a man to whom none will impute the crimes of either Puritanisin or sedition. The following quotation is from Edmund Burke's ' Address to the King.'

Attempts will be made, attempts have been made -- to inculcate into the minds of your people other maxims of

government and other grounds of obedience, than those which ' have prevailed at and since the glorious Revolution.'—'Sir, your

throne cannot stand secure upon the principles of uncon- ditional submission and passive obedience, or powers exercised ' without the concurrence of the people to be governed; on

acts made in defiance of their prejudices and habits; on acquiescence procured by foreign mercenary troops, and secured

by standing armies. These may, possibly, be the foundation • of other thrones ; they must be the subversion of yours. It

was not to passive principles in our ancestors, that we owe • the honour of appearing before a Sovereign, who cannot feel " that he is a prince, without knowing that we ought to be free. " The Revolution is a departure from the ancient course of the • descent of this Monarchy. The people, at that time, re-entered ' into their original rights: and it was not because a positive · Law authorized what was then done; but, because the free

dom and safety of the Subject, the origin and cause of all Laws, ' required a proceeding paramount and superior to them. At

that ever memorable and instructive period, the letter of the ' Law was superseded in favour of the substance of Liberty. To ' the free choice, therefore, of the people, without either King

or Parliament, we owe that happy Establishment, out of which both King and Parliament were regenerated. From that great

principle of Liberty have originated the Statutes, confirming " and ratifying the Establishment, from which your Majesty

derives your right to rule over us. Those Statutes have not 'given us our Liberties; our Liberties have produced them.

Every hour of your Majesty's reign your title stands upon the very same foundation, on which it was at first laid; and we do not know a beiter, on which it can possibly be placed.' Burke's Works, 8vo. Edition, Vol. IX., p. 193—4.

It was not, we believe, for want of such counsel, but in wilful, determinate opposition to these principles, that Charles I. lost his throne, and, eventually, his life.

The connexion of resemblance and of descent which is insimuated between the Puritans and Modern Dissenters, is more broadly implied in the subsequent pages of the volume. The

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]


Velvet Cushion becomes the purchase of an elder of a Dissenting congregation. In his new situation he soon discovers • that the general contempt for forms extended itself to every thing connected with the exterior of public worship:'-' it seemed almost a matter of indifference to my new proprietors, whether I was trampled or preached upon.' 6 - My dear,” said the Vicar," I venture to say this wrong.

Those who insult the forms of religion, are in imminent peril of learning to despise religion itself. A man who laughed at my surplice, would soon laugh at me."Far from despising forms,” (he says elsewhere,) • I never yet saw, nor expect to see, religion survive their destruction.'

p. 73. We have no wish to justify every thing in respect of which Dissenters may differ from the Established Church, nor to conceal whatever mistakes or defects may attach to their discipline and modes of worship. We agree, in the main, with these remarks ; but we must observe that our Author's meaning is not distinctly evident in speaking of the forms of religion. Are those forms alone to be sacred from insult which are established by law? Is it any particular modifications of external solemnity which are exclusively essential to the existence of religion? We confess that the want of a solemnity of spirit is too often lamentably conspicuous in the public assemblies of Dissenters : we wish it was confined to their assemblies; and though in respect both to the cause and the remedy of this evil, our experience might lead us to a conclusion somewhat different from the opinion of our Author, we will not dis;inte the point with him : we wish only to press upon his conviction the necessity of an enlightened consistency.

Such an expression as the lusty thumps of puritanical fists, and others of similar contemptuous ridicule, are not quite accordant with the spirit of these remarks. But we must proceed with the history of the Velvet Cushion.

• When I arrived, Sir, the elders of the Church happened to be assembled to sit in judgment upon the character of their minister, against whom, I found, capital misdemeanors were alleged He was charged with preaching a written Sermon—with wishing for a service on Christmas Day-with prefacing a sermon with the Lord's Prayerwith suggesting the propriety of kneeling in prayer. From the tone of authority assumed by the judges, I soon discovered that they, and not he, were the real ministers of the Chapel. He was a sort of organ, of which they were to change the barrel, fill the pipes, and manage the keys at their pleasure.







• Here I supposed the matter would have ended; but I then knew little of the facility of separation when the habit is once formed. The key stone of unity once removed, the building shivers at a mere touch. The very next day the minority determined to secede with

« AnteriorContinuar »