« PreviousContinue »
Collect. &c. fol. 165.
such as had taken the national covenant: these electors were neither to be minors nor servants. There was likewise a set of persons authorized by this ordinance, called triers, who were empowered to hear and determine all exceptions against the legality of these elections: and here it was farther ordained,
That all sentences pronounced by the majority of the triers present (provided the number is not under seven) in each classis, shall pass as the act of all the triers of that classis.
That the committee of the lords and commons appointed
for the judging of the scandal, shall have power to constitute Id. Scobel's triers within the province of London, where need shall require.
The majority of these triers are laymen throughout the twelve London classes. If
under censure thought himself injured, he had the liberty of appealing from the congregational to the classical, from the classical to the provincial, and from thence to the national assembly.
And here it may not be improper to observe that this scheme of religion is drawn upon Erastian principles ; for the ordinance sets forth that the congregational, classical, provincial, and national assemblies, were all of them to be subordinate to the parliament.
The two houses having spent several months in drawing proposals to be sent to his majesty touching a peace, the Scotch commissioners excepted against part of the draught.
I shall mention only their objections relating to religion. The Scotch As to the ordinances of the two houses concerning Church with the two government, they agree with them in the main : only they
desire that no godly minister may be excluded from being a
member of classical, provincial, and national assemblies. They points of Church
likewise desire the time for the ordinary meeting of the government. national assembly may be fixed; with a reserve of power to
the parliament to convene them when they please, and with a liberty to the Church to meet oftener upon necessary occasions.
The Scotch commissioners agree with the lords and commons upon the rules concerning suspension from the sacrament of the Lord's Supper; only they desire the congregational eldership may have power to judge in cases of scandal not expressed. This they conceived cannot be construed lodging an arbitrary power in the Church. On the other side, the appointing such provincial commissioners as are settled in
houses at Westminster in several
the ordinance, will occasion disputes, create a disconformity CHARLES between this and other churches ; and is a mixture in Church government altogether without precedent. This business, therefore, they conceive may be better managed by assemblies of ministers and ruling elders. They likewise agree to the ordinance for ordination of ministers ; excepting that whereas this provision is only temporary for a twelvemonth, they desire it may be made perpetual.
Farther, the manner of subjecting Church assemblies to the controlment and decision of the parliament, they conceive very liable to mistakes : the seeming exemption likewise of some distinctions of persons from ecclesiastical censures: the administering the sacrament to some persons against the conscience of the ministry and eldership: these and some other particulars are more than they understand, and may be easily altered to a general satisfaction. As for the remainder re- April, lating to the perpetual officers of the Church, together with 4.D. 1646. their respective functions; the order and power of Church assemblies, the directions for public repentance, the rules for excommunication and absolution; all these they desire may be settled pursuant to the covenant, and with the joint advice of the divines of both kingdoms.
Rushworth, Notwithstanding this remonstrance, the two houses were unwilling to come under any restraints, or part with their deinc. spiritual empire. This aversion appeared sufficiently by a declaration of the commons, in which they acquaint the two kingdoms they could by no means consent to the granting an unlimited jurisdiction to near ten thousand judicatories : that such arbitrary sway was inconsistent with the fundamental laws of this nation, and by necessary consequence excluded the parliament from having any share in ecclesiastical jurisdiction.
Thus the two houses seem to have been afraid of the Scotch discipline, and of being fettered too much in their interest, their pride, or their pleasures. However, the king now broken in the field, retiring to the Scotch army, and casting himself upon the duty and honour of that party, the two houses thought it necessary to come towards a compliance. The June 5. Scotch having the advantage of the king's person in their army, were not to be too much provoked. The juncture therefore proving somewhat unfriendly, they passed an ordi- An ordinance for the present settling of the presbyterian govern
nunce for settling
p. 253. et
Presbyte- ment without delay.” This settlement, notwithstanding, rial govern
was to continue but three years, unless the houses thought ment. Whitlock’s fit to prolong the term. But though this government looked Memorials,
but somewhat precarious and short-lived, the London ministers resolved to exert themselves, and practise upon the scheme : to this purpose they published a paper, entitled, “ Certain Considerations and Cautions agreed upon by the Ministers of London and Westminster, and within the Lines of Communication, June the 19th, 1646, according to which they resolve to put the presbyterial government in execution, upon the ordinances of parliament before published.”
The two houses, who resolved to go through with root and branch work, and settle at the greatest distance from the
Church of England, ordered the assembly divines to examine 8+2. the Nine-and-Thirty Articles. This summary, it seems, was
thought to resemble the primitive systems too much; or not
to come close enough to Calvin's institutions. These divines The assem- carried their review through fourteen Articles, and with some review some alterations brought them to a conformity with their own noof the Thirty- tions. But finding the rest too stubborn for their purpose, nine Articles, but break off they gave over the attempt, and pitched upon a different taking.
scheme. They thought it more practicable to form a new Rushworth, confession, than reconcile the old one. In this performance They make a they decree the morality of the Sunday Sabbath, pronounce confession,
the pope "Antichrist," the “Son of Perdition," and the “Man catechisms.
of Sin.” The Calvinian rigours of absolute predestination, irresistible grace, and the impotency of the will, are likewise intermixed. But as to the Presbyterian pretensions to ecclesiastical authority, they fall much short of the Scotch claim. They are so frank as to yield the civil magistrate a power of convening Church assemblies, and of superintending their proceedings, that every thing may be done agreeably to the will of God: and thus the magistracy or civil legislature seems to be made the last judge of controversy. But as to the independency of the Church, the divine right of the presbyteries, and the setting Christ upon his throne, they are altogether silent. By their dropping these privileges, they had in all likelihood handled the pulse of the two houses, and found their veins beat too high to come under such a regimen.
This confession, though imperfectly drawn, was offered by way of “humble advice to the lords and commons," for the
sanction of an ordinance: that being thus fortified, it might CHARLES pass for the doctrine of the Church of England. These assembly-divines published another composition of their belief. It is called the “ Larger Catechism,” and is upon the matter little more than giving another dress to their Confession ; it is put in the form of questions and answers, to make it pass, it may be, for something new under this disguise. But being somewhat too bulky to be taught in schools, and possibly too difficult for children to deal with, it was afterwards contracted to an epitome, called the “Lesser Catechism," and recommended to public use as more instructive than that in the Common Prayer.
Heylin. It has been already observed, the two houses spent some divivus, time in drawing proposals, to be sent to the king at Newcastle. P. 473. When this business was finished, the earls of Pembroke and Suffolk, with four members of the commons, were made commissioners. I shall only mention two or three of the articles. The king was desired to swear and sign the solemn league and covenant, and enjoin the taking of it in all his dominions : that a bill might pass for abolishing all archbishops, bishops, &c. : that the assembly of divines might be confirmed, and reformation settled on the foot of the covenant. The king demurring to these points, Henderson above-mentioned came to Newcastle, and importuned his majesty to satisfy the two part. 4. houses. The king alleging his conscience would not give him The king leave for such a length of concession, there passed some papers between them on the subject of Church government. bate the cor
troversy of To give the reader part of the argument.
The king in his first paper declares, “ that no one thing gave pererent him a greater reverence for the reformation of his mother the papers. Church of England, than that it was done according to the First Paper,
May 29, Apostles' practice, ' neither with multitude nor tumult.' That it was managed within the forms of the constitution, and Acts xxiv. governed by those whom his majesty conceived ought to have the conduct of such an affair: that this advantage, amongst many other reasons, made his majesty believe the work was perfect as to essentials : and as to Church government, his majesty observes the English Reformation has kept close to apostolical appointment, and the universal custom of the primitive Church. That therefore the adhering to episcopacy is of the last importance: that by altering the form of the
and Henderson de
hierarchy, the priesthood must sink, and the sacraments be administered without effect. For these reasons his majesty conceives episcopacy necessary to the being of a Church: and, over and above, he is bound by his coronation oath, to support the Church in the condition he found it. And, lastly, he desires to know of Henderson what warrant there is in the word of God, for subjects to endeavour to force their king's conscience? or to make him alter laws against his will ? ”
Henderson, after some introduction of respect, answers First Paper, « what the king offered from his father's example, and his own 3
education, by putting him in mind of a saying of St. Ambrose, "Non est pudor ad meliora transire ;" that it is neither sin nor shame to change for the better. That Symmachus, in his harangue for the Pagan religion, argues from the topics of antiquity and the constitution: that resembling reasons were urged by the Jews against Christianity, and may be made use of by the court of Rome against the Reformation.” Henderson, being sensible the king might take this for begging the question, endeavours to come a little closer. “He wishes religion was always, when occasion required, reformed by the civil magistrate; and not left either to the prelates or the people. However, he will have it, that when princes are negligent, God stirs up the subject to perform this work. He allows that Jacob reformed his own family ; that Moses destroyed the golden calf; that the good kings of Judah reformed the Church in their time. But that such reformation was perfect, he will by no means allow. And for this point he instances the imperfect essays of Asa, Jehosaphat, and Hezekiah, compared with what was carried on by their successor Josiah. From hence he proceeds to arraign the Reformation of king Henry VIII. That it was extremely defective in the essentials of doctrine, worship, and government; that the supremacy was transferred from one wrong head to another ; and that all the limbs of the antichristian hierarchy were visible in the body. He cites a saying of Grosted, bishop of Lincoln, that reformation was not to be expected, ' nisi in ore gladii cruentandi ;' he calls this a hard saying, but not without some reserve of approbation. That the Laodicean lukewarmness in the English Reformation, had been the constant complaint of many of the godly in this kingdom : that it had occasioned more schism and separation than was ever heard of