Page images
PDF
EPUB

num. 119.

recited, received a sufficient answer from the Church commis- CHARLES

II. sioners. But I shall detain the reader no longer upon this subject. However, it may not be improper to observe, there were some few concessions for alteration agreed to on the Church's side.

See Records, Besides the exceptions already mentioned by the Noncon- Baxter's formists, there were larger additions, or new forms, referred to

liturgy. Baxter's management. This divine went a great way in his commission, and drew up an entire service, which he entitled the “ Reformed Liturgy.” This, though performed by a single hand, not well practised in antiquity, was read by the ministers, and generally approved. The Common Prayer is very much altered in this composition: the additions and omissions are considerable ; and both matter and form remarkably different. It was laid before the bishops and other divines in the commission. In the recommendatory address before it, the Nonconformists had the modesty to declare, " that if any of those rules or directions upon debate shall be judged by the commissioners unnecessary or over long, we shall be very ready,” say they, “ to submit either to the alteration or omission of them.” At last, in the close of their application, they desire “ the several particulars thereof may be inserted into the respective places of the liturgy to which they belong, and be left to the minister's choice to use the one or the other, according to his majesty's gracious declaration concerning ecclesiastical affairs."

To proceed : about ten days before the commission expired, the ke" the Nonconformists desired a personal conference with the bishops upon the subject of the papers exchanged. This re- Liturgy,

&c. printed quest being agreed, three of each party were pitched on to A.D. 1661. manage the dispute : the bishops chose Dr. Pearson, Dr. Here the Gunning, and Dr. Sparrow: the ministers' managers were Dr. reader may

see Baxter's Bates, Dr. Jacomb, and Mr. Baxter. When they met, the Reformed conference, through want of order, frequent interruptions, and The Nonpersonal reflections, turned to no account.

conformists Time being thus spent to little purpose, bishop Cosens at sonal conlast produced a paper, containing an expedient to end the con-tween the troversy. The principal thing in this paper was a proposal episcopal “to put the complainants upon distinguishing between things conformist they charged as sinful, and others which they opposed upon the score of inexpediency." The three disputants on the ministers' side were desired to draw

up

their sense upon this

Petition for
Peace with

formation of the

desire a per

divines,

[ocr errors]

JUXON, subject against the next morning. This was accordingly done Abp. Cant, and delivered, but in their own names only: for here they

would not pretend to represent their party. In this discourse they charge the rubric and injunctions of the Church with eight things, flatly sinful, and contrary to the word of God. They are these :

The Non- “1. That no minister be admitted to baptize without the conformists make eight transient image of the cross. exceptions “ 2. That no minister be permitted to read or pray, or against the rubric

, but exercise the other parts of his office, that dares not wear a proof. surplice. 885. ** 3. That none be admitted to communion in the Lord's

supper that dare not receive it kneeling; and that all ministers be enjoined to deny it to such.

“ 4. That ministers are obliged to pronounce all baptized infants regenerate by the Holy Ghost, whether they are children of Christians or not.

66 5. That ministers be forced to deliver the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ unto the unfit, both in health and sickness, and that with personal application putting it into their hands : and that such are forced to receive it, though against their own wills, in the conscience of their impenitency.

“6. That ministers are forced to absolve the unfit, and that in absolute expressions.

“ 7. That ministers are forced to give thanks for all whom they bury, as brethren whom God has delivered and taken to himself. And,

“8. That none may be a preacher that dares not subscribe there is nothing in the Common Prayer-book, book of Ordina

tion, and the Nine-and-thirty Articles, that is contrary to the Calamy's

word of God." Life of Baxter, p. 164.

But this charge looks like naked affirmation ; for aught that appears, they either begged the question, or else failed in the proof. Besides, in the fifth and sixth articles, they went upon a supposition evidently false ; for, by the Common Prayerbook, the priest was not forced to administer either the holy eucharist, or the absolution, to persons unfit. This way of management, on the side of the Nonconformists, gave but a slender prospect of an accommodation. However, the episco

יל

ܪ

pal divines being willing the others should go their whole CHARLES length, and exert their force, it was at last agreed to argue in writing. The most remarkable things in this debate were these two:

First. They had a long argument about settling the sense and application of Rom. xiv. 1, 2, 3, “ Him that is weak in the faith, receive you, but not to doubtful disputations,” &c. But the meaning of a resembling text having been discussed in the Church commissioners' answer, I shall waive the recital of what passed upon this head. Only here it may be observed, that the Presbyterian ministers were the opponents.

In the other part of the dispute, the question was, Whether it was sinful to enjoin ministers to deny the commnion to those that would not receive it kneeling ?” And here the episcopal divines who opposed, urged several arguments, that things in their own nature indifferent might become necessary, as to their use, when commanded by lawful authority. In this debate Baxter seems to have been either perplexed in his understanding, or indisposed for closing the difference; for no proposition could be made plain enough to gain his assent. For instance, the episcopal divines argued thus : “That a Baxter's command which commands only an act in itself lawful, is not manner of sinful.” This was denied by Baxter, upon the score that some

arguing. unlawful circumstance might hang on the command, or because the penalty might be overcharged. The opponents reinforced their proposition thus : “That command which commandeth an act in itself lawful, and no other act whereby any unjust penalty is enjoined, nor any circumstance whence directly, or per accidens, any sin is consequent, which the commander ought to provide against, is not sinful.” This Baxter denied, for this dark reason, “Because the first act commanded, may be accidentally unlawful, and be commanded by an unjust penalty, though no other act or circumstance be such." This, besides the obscurity of the answer, appears no more than a repetition of what he had answered before. However, to disentangle this divine, the opponents endeavour to set the argument in a stronger light, if possible. To this purpose, they improve their proposition, thus : “That command which commandeth an act, in itself lawful, and no other act whereby any unjust penalty is enjoined, nor any circumstance whence directly, or per accidens, any sin is consequent, which the commander

168.

JUXON, ought to provide against, hath in it all things requisite to the Abp. Cant.

lawfulness of a command, and particularly cannot be guilty of

commanding an act per accidens unlawful, nor of commanding Id. p. 167, an act under an unjust penalty.” This proposition, thus

demonstratively couched, was denied by Baxter for his reasons last mentioned. His talent lay in retiring to foreign distinctions, and misapplications of the rules of logic. But whether this involving the argument, and raising a mist, was art, or infirmity, is hard to determine. However, let the most charitable construction pass. This cavilling and chicane, -as it

appeared, at least, in Baxter's management, ----was complained Letter to a of in print, by bishop Morley. This prelate takes notice, that Friend for Baxter's denying that plain proposition last mentioned, was of himself not only a frivolous and false manner of arguing, but likewise

destructive of all authority, human and divine ; that the rejectCalumny.

ing propositions of such evidence, strikes the Church out of all authority for making canons for the settling of order and discipline. And more than this, such a sceptical length of denial takes away.all legislative power from the king and parliament, and even from God himself; for no act can be so good in

itself, but that it may lead to a sin by accident. And if to Calamy's command such an act be a sin, then every command must be a

Baxter's

Life of Bax

ter, p. 168, sin.

169.

The con

ference at Savoy ends

without un accommodation.

.

And thus the conference at the Savoy ended without an accommodation. Whether the encouragement the Nonconformists received from the king and the ministry, the assurances they might have from some leading members in parliament, or their interest they reckoned on with the people ; whether all, or any of these motives made them stand off, and less compliant, is farther than I shall pronounce.

Before I take leave of this subject, I shall just mention those Church commissioners who had the greatest share in the debate. Henchman, then bishop of Salisbury, and afterwards of London, is reported well acquainted with the Fathers and councils : he discoursed with great temper, but was strongly against large abatements and schemes of comprehension. This prelate, together with Sheldon and Morley, are said to have had the chief management of this affair. Dr. Pearson, afterwards bishop of Chester, disputed with great exactness. The ministers on the other side had a particular regard for him, and believed that if this divine had been an umpire in the

II.

controversy, his concessions would have gone a great way: CHARLES and, to mention only one more, Dr. Gunning, afterwards bishop of Ely, had a principal part in the debate : he had a ready pronunciation, and argued with great learning and vigour. His regard for the practice of antiquity made him adhere strictly to the ceremonies and constitution of the Church: and he thought it by no means reasonable to give up usages and regulations, so primitively settled and supported.

At the close of the last day it was mutually agreed, that the report of the conference should be delivered to the king in writing, and that each party should give in this general account, “ That the Church's welfare, that unity and peace, and his majesty's satisfaction, were ends upon which they were all agreed : but as to the means, they could not come to any 886. harmony."

Soon after this conference, the Nonconformist commissioners drew up an account of their performance, together with a petition to his majesty for those alterations and abatements which had been lately promised. It was presented by bishop Reynolds, Bates, Manton, and Baxter. Part of their address runs thus :

tion.

“ As your majesty, under God, is the protection The Nonwhereto your people fly, and as the same necessities still re-address the main which drew forth your gracious declaration, we most king for the humbly and earnestly beseech your majesty, that the benefits late declaraof the said declaration may be continued to your people, and in particular that the additions may be made to the liturgy, that are therein expressed. --We shall wait in hope, that so great a calamity of your people as would follow the loss of so many able, faithful ministers, as rigorous impositions would cast out, shall never be recorded in the history of your reign ; but that these impediments of concord being forborne, your kingdoms may flourish in piety and peace,” &c.

ld.

p.

176.

But this application failed of success. The king might probably be of opinion, that these ministers came off with disadvantage, and sunk in the controversy. While the debate at the Savoy was on foot, a new parlia- May 8,

1661. ment met at Westminster; the members of both houses were well affected to the Church and crown. And, not to mention

« PreviousContinue »