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LAUD, away, and that such a government shall be settled in the Abp. Cant. Church as may be most agreeable to God's holy word, and most apt to procure and preserve the peace of the Church at home, and nearer agreement with the Church of Scotland, and other reformed churches abroad: and for the better effecting hereof, and for the vindicating and clearing of the doctrine of the Church of England from all false calumnies and aspersions, it is thought fit and necessary to call an assembly of learned, godly, and judicious divines, to consult and advise of such matters and things touching the premises as shall be proposed unto them by both or either of the houses of parliament, and to give their advice and counsel therein to both or either of the said houses, when, and as often as they shall be thereunto required."
Those who stand foremost in the list of these learned and The members godly divines, are Algernon earl of Northumberland, William of this meet- earl of Bedford, Philip earl of Pembroke and Montgomery, William earl of Salisbury, Henry earl of Holland, Edward earl of Manchester, William lord viscount Say and Sele, Edward lord viscount Conway, Philip lord Wharton, Edward lord Howard, of Escrick; the next are Selden, Rows, Prideaux, both the sir Henry Vanes, Pym, sir John Clottworthy, Maynard, Bulstrode Whitlock, and several other members of the lower house.
Acts, &c. Rushworth, part 3.
Those of the assembly who were in orders, or pretended to be so, may be ranged under three divisions. The episcopal men were James Usher, primate of Ireland, Brownrig, bishop of Exeter, Westfield, bishop of Bristol, Dr. Featly, Dr. Holdsworth, &c.
The chief of the Presbyterian party were these following:
Dr. Hoyle, divinity professor in Ireland.
Dr. Gouge, of Blackfriars.
Dr. William Twisse.
Dr. Cornelius Burgess.
The third division consisted of those who had lately transported themselves to Holland, to avoid the penalty of nonconformity. These dissented from the assembly in several things, and at last settled in independency. Amongst this number we may reckon, Thomas Goodwin, Sidrach Sympson, Philip Nye, &c.
By virtue of the ordinance, these assembly-men were to The powers meet at Westminster, in king Henry VII.'s chapel. Any straints of forty of them, clergy or lay, are declared a sufficient number, and empowered to act. They were to consult and debate matters relating to the liturgy, discipline, and government of the Church of England, and to vindicate the doctrinal part from all such misconstructions as shall be proposed to them by either or both houses of parliament. They were to deliver their opinions concerning these matters, in such manner as shall be required by either or both of the said houses, and not to divulge their resolutions, by printing, writing, or otherwise, without the consent of either or both houses. Dr. Twisse was constituted their prolocutor; and in case he happened to die, or was otherwise disabled, his successor was to be chosen by both houses of parliament. And provided any disagreement fell out amongst the members of the assembly, the parties were to represent the reasons of their different opinions to either or both houses of parliament, that such farther direction might be given them as the occasion required.
And to encouage their business, the ordinance allows them four shillings a day, and secures them against the forfeitures of non-residence. Farther, the assembly was to be dissolved at
LAUD, the direction of both houses of parliament; and in case any of Abp. Cant, the members died before such dissolution, the two houses were
rules for the
to nominate the persons for supplying the places of those deceased. And lastly, it is provided, that this assembly shall not exercise any jurisdiction, or ecclesiastical authority, excepting what is particularly expressed in this ordinance.
There were some farther general rules given these divines, by the lords and commons in parliament.
"1. That two assessors be joined to the prolocutor, to supply his place in case of absence or infirmity.
"2. Two scribes to be appointed to set down all proceedings, and these to be divines, who are not members of the assembly, viz., Mr. Henry Rowberry and Mr. Adoniram Byfield.
"3. Every member at his first entrance into the assembly shall make a serious and solemn protestation not to maintain any thing but what he believes to be truth, and to embrace truth in sincerity, when discovered to him.
"4. No resolution to be given upon any question on the same day wherein it is first propounded.
"5. What any man undertakes to prove as necessary, he shall make good out of the Scriptures.
"6. No man to proceed in any dispute after the prolocutor hath enjoined him to silence, unless the assembly desire he may go on.
"7. No man to be denied to enter his dissent from the assembly, and his reasons for it in any point after it hath been first debated in the assembly; and thence (if the dissenting party desire it) to be sent to the houses of parliament by the assembly (not by any particular man or men in a private way), when either house shall require it.
"8. All things agreed on, and prepared for the parliament, to be openly read and allowed in the assembly, and then offered as the judgment of the assembly, if the major part assent; provided that the opinion of any persons dissenting, and the reasons urged for it, be annexed thereunto (if the dissenters require it), together with solutions (if any were) given in the assembly to those reasons."
Now follows the oath.
"I, A. B., do seriously and solemnly, in the presence of
Almighty God, declare that (in this assembly whereof I am a CHARLES member) I will not maintain any thing, in matters of doctrine, but what I think in my conscience to be truth, or in point of discipline, but what I shall conceive to conduce most to the Dugdale's Short View, glory of God, and the good and peace of his Church.”
The summoning this assembly by the two houses was a new The king provocation to his majesty, and an unprecedented encroachment forbids their upon the prerogative royal. And over and above the illegality of the meeting, it was mostly made up of persons disaffected to the Church; and which was a farther reason for just exception, the divines were intermixed with secular men, and in case of any difference, the two houses were the last judges of the controversy. Upon these considerations, the king published his proclamation before the sitting of this extraordinary synod, prohibiting all persons mentioned in that pretended ordi- June 22. nance the assembling for that purpose; declaring the assembly illegal; that no acts done by them ought to be received by the subject; and that the allowing the assembly-men wages by a tax upon the public was an unheard-of presumption."
Notwithstanding this proclamation, sixty-nine of the persons Reg. p. 328.
nominated were so hardy as to meet at the time and place appointed; but of the episcopal men very few appeared, and scarcely any of them continued with the assembly, excepting Dr. Featly.
Upon the 1st of July, pursuant to the ordinance, these divines met in king Henry VII.'s chapel. The assembly was opened with a sermon preached by their prolocutor, Dr. Twisse, both houses of parliament being present. The clerks or actuaries were Henry Roborough and Adoniram Byfield. And now the city preachers prayed for a blessing upon their debates, and books were dedicated to them in the style of the "Most Sacred Assembly'."
One of their first public acts was a petition to both houses for a solemn fast. The matter and expression in this address being somewhat extraordinary, I shall lay it before the reader.
1 A very interesting and somewhat pungent parallel might be drawn between the synod of Dort and this assembly of divines. It is remarkable that these divines, in their zeal for religion, forgot that loyalty is its indispensable correlative: but the sin of rebellion is like the sin of witchcraft.
LAUD, Abp. Cant.
"To the Right Honourable the Lords and Commons assembled in Parliament.
The assembly petition
"The humble petition of divers ministers of Christ, in the name of themselves and of sundry others,
"That your petitioners, upon serious consideration, and houses for a deep sense of God's heavy wrath lying on us, and hanging over
our heads and the whole nation, and manifested particularly by the two late sad and unexpected defeats of our forces in the north and in the west, do apprehend it our duty, as watchmen beaten in the for the good of the Church, to present to your religious and king; and prudent consideration these ensuing requests, in the name of lord Fairfax Jesus Christ, your Lord and ours.
in the North
by the earl of Newcastle.
"First. That you would be pleased to command a public and extraordinary day of humiliation this week, throughout the cities of London, Westminster, the suburbs of both, and places adjacent within the weekly bills of mortality, that every one may bitterly bewail his own sins, and cry mightily unto God, for Christ his sake, to remove his wrath, and to heal the land, with professed and new resolutions of more full performance of the late covenant for the amendment of our ways.
Secondly. That you would vouchsafe instantly to take it into your more serious consideration how you may most speedily set up Christ more gloriously in all his ordinances within this kingdom, and reform all things amiss throughout the land, wherein God is more specially and more immediately dishonoured: among which we humbly lay before you these particulars :
"1. That the brutish ignorance and palpable darkness possessing the greatest part of the people, in all places of the kingdom, whereby they are utterly unfit to wait upon God in any holy duty, (to the great dishonour of the Gospel and the everlasting endangering of their poor souls,) may be remedied by a speedy and strict charge to all ministers constantly to catechize all the youth and ignorant people (they being commanded to be subject to it) and all sorts to be present at it, and information to be given of all persons who shall withstand or neglect it.