« PreviousContinue »
one of them 22 she suspended from his office and confined in his house--for not enforcing the laws against the Puritans. When her most sagacious ministers urged her to be more tolerant to men whose chief crime was hatred to Rome, she steeled herself against their appeals for mercy—and this at the very time when her life was in danger from Romish plots, and when Rome would have sung a Te Deum if a successful revolt had deprived her of her crown. Most of her Parliaments were eager to carry reformation further, and tried hard to induce her to relax the terms of conformity to which the Puritans objected ; but she held fast to her own policy ; she told the Commons that matters of religion belonged to the Crown and not to them, and commanded them in her impressive way to attend to their own affairs. Her policy succeeded. She kept the peace between Catholics and Protestants, and saved the nation from the horrors of a religious civil war. When she came to the throne, she found the vast majority of her people worshipping at the altars of Rome ; when she died, the vast majority of her people were worshipping at the altars of the Anglican Church.
She was Protestant by birth, and Protestant by the necessities of her position. She could not acknowledge the authority of the Pope without breaking with her best friends. She did not want to acknowledge it. Her queenly pride, her natural spirit, made her resent the interference of a foreign bishop in the ecclesiastical affairs of her kingdom ; but for the theology of Protestantism she cared nothing, and the baldness of a Protestant service was alien to her taste. She had a lingering sentiment in favour of some of the practices and mysteries which had been renounced. She rebuked a preacher who argued in his sermon against the Real Presence, and she kept a crucifix in her private chapel. The crucifix provoked great excitement, and it was removed ; but it was soon replaced. To the very last, she had a strong prejudice against a married clergy, and treated the wives of her bishops with scant courtesy. What she cared for was neither the theology of Protestantism nor Rome and all his detestable enormities, Good Lord deliver us,” was cancelled. The vestments forbidden by the second Prayer-Book of Edward VI., but permitted by the first, were made lawful. A few other changes were made in the same reactionary direction. See Cardwell, Conferences, 32-36.
22 Archbishop Grindal, in 1577. Strype, Grindal, 329, 343, 345, 346.
its ritual, but the loyalty of her people and the ecclesiastical independence of her Crown. She was resolved to be the Queen of all Englishmen, and to permit no rival power to command the obedience of her subjects: the acknowledgment of the ecclesiastical supremacy of the Pope seemed to her a humiliation of her regal dignity.
She was ready, therefore, from the moment of her accession to abjure, and to require all her servants to abjure, the papal jurisdiction. No one could be permitted to hold any office under the Crown, military, civil, or ecclesiastical, without acknowledging her individual authority. But she was resolved to make as few changes in the service of the Church as possible. She was obliged to concede much to the Protestants ; but it was her aim to make the service tolerable to the Catholics. All over England, for some years after she came to the throne, the people found their old priests officiating before the old altars, wearing the old vestments, and celebrating a service which was very like the old ritual.23 The clergy did not give up their livings; the people did not leave their churches. This was just what the Queen desired. She did not much care what the priests believed, if they were only willing to acknowledge her authority ; had she been left to herself, they might have continued to practise many of the ceremonies which the Prayer-Book rejected, and she would never have disturbed them. She cared still less what the laity believed, if they were loyal to herself, attended the English service, and did not quarrel about religion. Her Protestantism was the offspring partly of policy and partly of national sentiment, rather than of religious conviction.
In the original settlement of the English Church under Elizabeth, the door was purposely left open for those who rejected
The new Prayer-Book was for the most part an English rendering of the old service. Even the more zealous adherents of Catholicism held as yet that in complying with the order for attendance at public worship 'there could be nothing positively unlawful.'
Where party feeling ran high indeed, the matter was sometimes settled by a compromise. A priest would celebrate mass at his parsonage for the more rigid Catholics, and administer the new communion in church to the more rigid Protestants. Sometimes both parties knelt together at the same altar-rails, the one to receive hosts consecrated by the priests at home after the old usage, the other wafers consecrated in church after the new. In many parishes of the north no change of service was made at all.” J. R. Green, History of the English People, ii. 306-307.
a great part of the Protestant theology. It was not till 1571 that the English clergy were required to renounce the creed of Rome as well as the jurisdiction of the Pope. This was forced upon her at a time of great danger ; and though for a moment she yielded, her policy was unchanged. She was resolved, at almost any cost, to conciliate the laity who clung to the ceremonial of the ancient service. They were repelled from her churches by the irregularities of the Puritan clergy, and, therefore, although Puritan loyalty was the surest defence of her throne, Puritan irregularities were fiercely repressed. Her patience and persistency received their reward. Even when the Pope excommunicated her, large numbers of her people who regarded Protestantism with suspicion and dislike continued to attend her churches. They had attended them for thirteen years, had thought themselves good Catholics while worshipping according to the forms of the English PrayerBook; and now that they had to choose between the Pope and the Queen, they held by the Queen-many of them thinking, no doubt, that they were good Catholics still. The Spanish Armada completed their conversion, and drew into the English Church large numbers of Englishmen who, till the ships of Spain were menacing the English coast, refused to conform to the new order. That a Spanish King should attempt to invade England in the name of Catholicism, was an offence not to be forgiven. To resist this outrage, Catholic and Protestant fought side by side ; and when they had fought together against a Catholic invasion, it became easier to pray together in an Anglican church.
It is possible that Elizabeth might have secured her ends by other means ; that if while conciliating the moderate Catholics she had also been willing to conciliate the Puritans, and permitted them both to remain in the national Church together; if she had left the clergy free to wear vestments or not, to practise the old ceremonies or not, according to their own choice or the wishes of their parishioners, all that she aimed at might have been won, and many of the calamities that fell on the Church and the nation in later years might have been avoided. It is doubtful-more than doubtful-whether such a policy was possible ; whether, if possible, it would have been successful. As a matter of fact, she gained what she wanted. And it may be thought that if the political instinct
and sagacity of James I., and of Charles I., had been as keen as her own, the fierce strife which broke out in the Great Rebellion might have been prevented, the external religious unity of the nation might have been preserved, and the rise of Evangelical Nonconformity might have been indefinitely postponed. But, on the other hand, the policy of Elizabeth which drew her Catholic subjects into the English Church made the spirit of the English Church more Catholic. The triumph of Elizabeth lowered the fires of English Protestantism in the Establishment, and rendered possible the revival of the Catholic spirit and doctrine under Laud. She gave a permanent place in the English Church to the very forces which forty years after her death provoked the assault that for a time laid both the Church and the throne in the dust. The chief difficulties of James and of Charles were the direct results of the success of Elizabeth.
THE FORMATION OF THE FIRST CONGREGATIONAL
CHURCH IN ENGLAND
DISSATISFACTION WITH THE SETTLEMENT OF THE CHURCH-CONCES
SIONS TO PURITANS PROPOSED BUT REJECTED IN CONVOCATION-
ENFORCED_THE ADVERTISEMENTS "-RESIST-
T soon became apparent that the settlement of the English
Church was unsatisfactory to some of the firmest friends of the Queen. Among the new bishops and deans were men who during Mary's time had been driven into exile, and who shared the opinions of the Protestants of Geneva and of Zurich on questions of ritual and of church polity.
Most of the livings which had been vacated by those of the Catholic clergy who refused to take the Oath of Supremacy, or to submit to the Act of Uniformity, appear to have been given to men who desired a more thorough Reformation than the Queen was willing to allow. The friends of the old order who remained in the Church felt that their only safety was in keeping quiet ; and in the Convocation which met early in 1562 the ardent Protestants had been allowed to secure a number of representatives out of all proportion to their