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in the government of the English Church to compel them to leave it. Their objections were mainly to the Prayer-Book ritual. These objections varied with different men. Ceremonies and languages which some regarded as positively sinful, others regarded as simply inexpedient. Some men thought it unlawful to require all ministers of Christ to use ceremonies and language which they themselves could use without scruple. Some parts of the Book, however, were regarded by nearly the whole party with strong disapprobation.
But will they be loyal to conscience, and refuse to conform ? If they conform, they will retain their parsonages and their stipends ; some of them will have the chance of rich livings, of deaneries, of bishoprics. If they refuse to conform, they will be driven from their homes, and many of them will be plunged into poverty. If they conform—and when the devil pleaded this argument, he appeared as a very angel of lightthey will remain with the men and women whom they have already taught to love and serve God, but who need their counsel, instruction, and warning to keep them in the way of righteousness; week by week they will know the blessedness and glory of pleading with men to submit to the august authority of God and to trust in His infinite love. If they refuse to conform, they will never more stand up in the pulpit, to console the sorrowful and the weary, to rejoice the hearts of saints by glowing words about the divine grace and about the glory, honour, and immortality which are the inheritance of the Church in Christ, or to warn the impenitent of judgment to come. They might have opportunities to speak to men in private on these great matters ; but if they refuse to conform, their ministry will be over. For the Act of Uniformity silenced every preacher in England that refused to conform.
There were a few who bent to the storm ; but there were fifteen hundred or two thousand who said : We cannot so lie; no, not to save the homes of our wives and children : not to save ourselves from beggary; not to win deaneries and bishoprics ;--no, nor even that we may still be able to bind up broken hearts, to sustain good men in righteousness, to rescue wicked men from sin and eternal death. First of all we must be honest men. God help us for the rest !”
Among those who came out there were crowds of Presbyterians—men like Baxter, Bates, and Calamy; and a large
number of Independents. Ivimey gives a list of nearly thirty Baptists who were among the ejected; but the list, as he himself suggests, is probably both incorrect and incomplete. It is probable that a very considerable number of Baptists occupied the pulpits of parish churches when Charles returned ; but they were ejected by the Act of 1660. It is possible, however, that some of them were able to retain their positions till the great catastrophe came, and that then they were swept out of the Church with their brethren. Some distinguished names appear in Ivimey's list. John Tomber, of Leominster, Baxter's old opponent, and Henry Jessey-in some respects a still more eminent man-are among the most conspicuous."
The ejectment was a great act of baseness. Charles was solemnly pledged to protect the men who gave him the throne, and his pledge imposed on the whole of the Royalist and Episcopalian party the most solemn obligations. It was a crimeless barbarous, less cruel, less tragic, than the massacre of the Huguenots in Paris ninety years before, but hardly less treacherous. There is, however, one great contrast between the French Bartholomew's Day and our own. The crime of the Guises almost crushed French Protestantism; and by crushing French Protestantism it rendered possible those enormous political and social wrongs which had to be swept away by the volcanic forces of the great Revolution. But the English ejectment was the salvation of the religious life of the nation and of its religious and civil liberties.
It is true that the ecclesiastical settlement under the Act of Uniformity was fatal to the evangelical element in the Establishment. The ascendency of the Evangelical party in the first thirty or forty years of the nineteenth century was only temporary; and it was the result of the great evangelical revival which had been originated by Whitefield and the
3 Ivimey, Baptists, i. 328–329. - See pp. 403-404:
5 But it is possible that Jessey had to retire even before the Act of 1660, which was meant to dislodge the Baptists. Wilson (Dissenting Churches, i. 45) says that he was ejected and silenced in 1660. Cf. Palmer, Nonconformists' Memorial, i. 132.
Wesleys. The Evangelicals, even in the years of their greatest power, were an inconsiderable minority of the clergy; and the party was not sustained by that learning and intellectual vigour which it might have inherited, had the crime of 1662 never been consummated.
But it has not been sufficiently considered that if the very moderate demands of the Presbyterians had been conceded, the concessions would in all probability have been most disastrous to evangelical religion. The principal services contained in the Book of Common Prayer were originally drawn up when the nation was just emerging from the dark shadows of Romanism, and they are drawn in part from service-books which had been in use before the Reformation. They were intended to retain as large a number of Romanists as possible in the Establishment. They are constructed on a theory which connects human salvation with the Sacraments, instead of ascribing it to the infinite mercy of God, which through Christ has redeemed the human race from sin and eternal death-mercy which in the case of adults must be met by a personal faith, and by a personal faith which is manifested in a life of practical righteousness. The services are coherent from first to last. They require the clergy and adherents of the Establishment to give God thanks that infants are spiritually regenerated in baptism ; and to give God thanks that all the baptized, if they have not been excommunicated and have not committed suicide, are received at death into everlasting rest and joy. No slight verbal changes, such as would have satisfied the moderate Presbyterians of 1662, could have changed the real character and genius of the English PrayerBook. Had the Presbyterians remained in the Church, and used the book with the slight modifications which they demanded, their evangelical theology would gradually have been modified by the sacramentalism and sacerdotalism of the services. The free growth of their evangelical faith would have been hampered and restrained. When they were expelled from the Establishment, the true spirit and genius of their theology was liberated. The Church which they founded learned to abhor every sacerdotal pretension and every sacramental superstition. It was the salvation of Evangelicalism when the Evangelicals were ejected.
Further, the ejectment of 1662 occasioned the rise of
religious communities which were certain to become too powerful to be refused toleration. When the Revolution came, twenty-six years later, their claims to freedom of worship could not be refused. If the great body of the Presbyterians had been included in the national Establishment, and the Baptists and Independents and the members of the Society of Friends had been left to fight the battle of freedom alone, the severity of the struggle would have been greatly intensified. From the hour when the fifteen hundred or two thousand were ejected, religious toleration became a political necessity.
PERSECUTION AND THE FIRST INDULGENCE
SUFFERINGS AND LOSSES OF EJECTED MINISTERS AND THEIR CHURCHES
-Services CONTINUED IN SECRET-KING WILLING BUT UNABLE
OME of the ejected ministers, like John Owen, were
fortunate enough to have private estates which enabled them, after the loss of their benefices, to live in ease and comfort; others, like John Howe, found a shelter in the homes of great Puritan families; others earned an honourable livelihood in various secular occupations; some were generously supported by members of their former congregations ; very many suffered severe privations."
During the twenty-six years which passed between the Ejectment and the Revolution, all forms of Nonconformist worship were illegal ; and, except during the brief periods covered by the “ Indulgences,” preachers and congregations were in danger of fine or imprisonment, or both. Non
1 See the elaborate details in Kennet, 888, foll., given to show that cases of hardship were rare. But his statements, as in Owen's case and John Howe's (ibid., 911), are often inaccurate,