Page images
PDF
EPUB

Plymouth. He was succeeded in the pastorate of the Southwark Church by Henry Jessey.

Notwithstanding the severity with which the laws against Separatism were enforced, the Separatists became every year more numerous and created increasing anger and alarm among the bishops and their supporters. In 1624 the Corporation of Yarmouth was sharply rebuked by the Earl of Dorset for tolerating an assembly of Brownists; the Corporation repented and threw thirty of them into prison. In 1631, Hall, Bishop of Exeter, wrote to Laud :

"I hear to my grief that there are eleven congregations (as they call them) of Separatists about the City [of London) furnished with their idly-pretended pastors, who meet together in brewhouses and such other places of resort every Sunday. I do well know your Lordship's zealous and careful vigilance over that populous world of men. So far as I am assured, your Lordship finds enough to move your sorrow and holy fervour in the cause of God's Church.” 21

A congregation of Separatists, Laud reports, was caught in June, 1632, while meeting in a wood near Newington in Surrey, “in the very brake where the King's stag should have been lodged for his hunting the next morning"; ?? another congregation was broken up at Ashford in Kent, in 1637 ; 23 another at Rotherhithe, in 1638.

Wroth, an Oxford man, Rector of Llanfaches in Monmouthshire, who in 1635 was denounced by the Bishop of Llandaff as “ a noted schismatic,” became a Separatist a year or two later, and, in 1639, Walter Cradock and Henry Jessey assisted him to found an Independent Church in the parish where he had been rector.24 Churches were also formed at Wrexham, at Llanfair and some other places in Wales.

There were many indications before the meeting of the

21 Waddington, ii. (1567-1700), 272-273, from State Papers, Charles I. (Domestic Series), cxciii. 69.

22 Waddington, ibid., from State Papers, ibid., ccxviii. 46. 23 These were Baptists.

24 In the Church at Llanfaches, Baptists and Pædobaptists were united in communion. It had two pastors—Wroth, a Pædobaptist, and William Thomas, a Baptist. Wroth often took part in the meetings of the famous Separatist congregation in Bristol, which was the origin of the Broadmead Church. Brook, ii. 469; and Calamy, Continuation,

Long Parliament that large numbers of devout people in different parts of England were profoundly convinced that loyalty to Christ compelled them to renounce the communion of the English Church and to attempt to restore the worship and the church polity of apostolic times. It was also clear that they were ready to carry their convictions into practice at the cost of fine, imprisonment, and death itself.

NOTE A

The Pilgrim Church in Southwark In the Congregational Year Book for 1885 the date of the foundation of this Church is given as 1592. This would identify the Church in New Kent Road with the Church of which Francis Johnson was pastor in Queen Elizabeth's days, and would treat the proceedings of 1616 as a simple reorganisation of a previously existing communion. But is this strictly accurate ? In 1624 Robinson wrote a letter in the name of the Leyden Church to

the Church of Christ in Londonin answer to a letter, received some time before, asking for counsel. One of the questions on which counsel was requested was whether Mr. Jacob's Church was a true Church or not. It seems probable that the Church asking for counsel was the survival of that of which Francis Johnson had been pastor.25 The members of this society, which in all probability had become extremely feeble, were scandalised by the practice of Jacob and his friends who occasionally attended the services of the Episcopal Church. They even appear to have discussed the propriety of excommunicating a young woman, one of their own members, for listening to Mr. Jacob and joining in the worship of his Church-arguing that Mr. Jacob and his people had become idolaters by attending the “ assemblies” of the English Church, "in which many things are against the second commandment, and that by worshipping with those who had attended these “ semblies ” the unfortunate young woman had come to be an idolater too. Robinson approves the decision that the young woman who had committed the alleged offence should be retained in communion, and contends strongly against the line of argument which would have excluded her. In reply to the question “Whether Mr. Jacob's congregation be a true Church or no," he says—“We have so judged, and the elders of the Church at Amsterdam and the body of the Church with them, as we conceive ; and so do we

25 Dexter, 634, notes, 29, 30; and 635-636.

as

judge still, having sent you with our letter a copy of certain papers, in which the matter is handled.” 28

It is clear, therefore, that in 1624 there was another Congre. gational Church in London-probably in Southwark 27—which doubted whether the Church of which Jacob was pastor was a true Church.

It is probable from Robinson's whole discussion of the questions which this Church had proposed to their brethren at Leyden that it was in existence before Jacob returned from Holland in 1616. It is further probable that this Church was the same as that of which Francis Johnson had been pastor some years before, and the history of which was well known to Robinson and his friends. It is recognised by him as “the Church of Christ in London ”; but the tone of Robinson's letter is not very cordial ; and the fact that Jacob had founded a new Church indicates that to Jacob, and probably to Robinson, its condition had appeared unsatisfactory. The nature of the inquiries addressed to the Leyden Church indicates that it was animated by a very different temper from that which Robinson himself encouraged among the exiles.

Some of the persons who had been in communion with the older Church may very probably have united themselves with Jacob in founding the new Society of which he was pastor ; but the older Church continued to exist and it regarded the new Society with distrust. Jacob's movement, therefore, constituted a fresh beginning : it was not the reorganisation of an old Church, but the foundation of a new one.

On these grounds it would appear that the “ Pilgrim ” Church, which is the Church that had Jacob for its pastor, and which may claim the honour of being the oldest Independent Church in England, was founded in 1616—not in 1592.

23 Robinson, Works (edited by R. Ashton), iii. 381-385. 27 This is also Waddington's opinion. See Robinson, ibid., iii. 439.

CHAPTER IV

THE BISHOPS WAR

ATTEMPT OF CHARLES TO FORCE EPISCOPACY UPON SCOTLAND—THE

CANONS AND THE SERVICE-Book-OUTBREAK OF INDIGNATION
AT EDINBURGH—THE COVENANT RENEWED-THE ROYAL COM-
MISSIONERS AND THE ASSEMBLY-SUPPRESSION OF PRELACY-
CAMPAIGN OF THE COVENANTERS UNDER LESLIE-IMPOTENCE OF
THE KING_TREATY OF BERWICK--The Short" PARLIAMENT
SUMMONED AND DISSOLVED-HOSTILITIES RENEWED AND SUS-
PENDED-PARLIAMENT AGAIN CONVENED.

[ocr errors]

HE attempt of Charles to force a liturgy on Scotland,

and to complete the destruction of the Presbyterian organisation of the Scottish Church, led to the suppression of the Prayer-Book and the abolition of Episcopacy in England. The Covenanters who in 1639 took up arms “ For Christ's Crown and the Covenant " compelled the King to call the Long Parliament which sent Laud and Strafford to the scaffold, and broke up the whole political and ecclesiastical constitution of the kingdom.

I

In the summer of 1633 Charles was crowned at Edinburgh. To impress the Scottish people with the contrast between the bare simplicity of their own worship and the stateliness and beauty of the English liturgy, the Dreadnought, one of the vessels of his Majesty's navy, carried from Tilbury Fort to Leith twenty-six members of the choir of the Chapel Royal, and service was celebrated in the chapel of Holyrood with all the pomp of an English cathedral.

After all the efforts of James and Charles to increase the power of the Scotch bishops, the Church of Scotland still retained some of the essential characteristics of the Presby

a

terian polity, and its worship was generally celebrated according to Puritan traditions. It was the fixed determination of the King and of Laud, who accompanied him to Edinburgh, that both in polity and in worship the Church of Scotland should conform to the Church of England.

Charles began by issuing a royal warrant directing that all the ministers of the Kirk should wear the surplice when conducting divine service. Four or five of the Scotch bishops were then commissioned to draw up a book of Canons and a liturgy. The Canons were to be submitted to the revision of Laud, who was made Archbishop of Canterbury in 1633, and of Juxon, Bishop of London ; the liturgy was to be submitted to the revision of Laud and of Wren, Bishop of Norwich, man of a severe, sour nature, but very learned, and particularly versed in the old liturgies of the Greek and Latin churches.” 1

The Canons were ready first, and were confirmed by letters patent under the royal seal on May 23, 1635. No assembly of the Scottish clergy was consulted ; some of the Scottish bishops knew nothing of them until they were published ; even the lords of the council, who were responsible for the administration of Scotland, were not asked to give any opinion on them. This, says Lord Clarendon, was “a fatal inadvertency.' But it was not an “ inadvertency”; it was an act of deliberate policy. The king intended to force Episcopacy, of the Anglican type, upon Scotland, whether the nobles, the clergy, or the people liked it or not.

The Canons provoked fierce indignation. They appeared to the Scottish people

" to be so many new laws imposed upon the whole kingdom by the king's sole authority, and contrived by a few private men, of whom they had no good opinion, and who were strangers to the nation ; so that it was no other than a subjection to England, by receiving laws from thence, of which they were most jealous, and which they most passionately abhorred.” 3

The substance of the Canons was as offensive as the manner in which they were imposed. They punished with excommunication every one that should affirm that the Scotch Book of

i Clarendon, History, i. 146.

3 Ibid., i. 148.

3 Ibid., i. 149.

« PreviousContinue »