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kingdom, that the Papists were coming to take possession. The clergy hereupon made such exclamations, as plainly shewed that they were unable to bear a small share of those severities themselves, which they had been for a long time so liberally inflicting upon others.
March the 18th, the king acquainted the council, that he had determined to issue out a Declaration for a general li. berty of conscience, to all persons of all persuasions; and thereupon he ordered the attorney and solicitor-general not to permit any process to issue in his majesty's name, against any Dissenters whatsoever. The Declaration, published for this purpose, bore date April the 11th, 1687. The Dissenters, thankful as they were for their ease and liberty, were yet fearful of the issue; and but few, of
any consequence, could be charged with hazarding the public safety by falling in with the measures of the court, of which they had as great a dread as their neighbours. And though they had now a fair opportunity for revenge, they could not think it desirable, either as men or as christians to embrace it. If some of them over-did it in their addresses, the high-church party, who had been so much used to high flights of compliment, had little reason to reflect upon them. But there were not many who could be censured on this head. Mr. Baxter and others, had no concern in addressing, but waited to see the effects of the marquis of Halifax's declaration on behalf of the Church-party, in a letter to the Dissenters, “ That all their foriner haughti
ness towards the Dissenters was for ever extinguished; “ and that the spirit of persecution was turned into a spi“ rit of peace, charity, and condescension; that the church “ of England was convinced of its error in being severe
them: and that all thinking men were come to a general agreement, no more to cut ourselves off from the Pro“ testants abroad, but rather enlarge the foundations, upon " which we are to build our defences against the coinmon
Among other methodś now taken to promote Popery, Mr. 06. Walker, master of University College, Oxford, kept a press at work in the college, upon several Popish books that were to be spread all through the nation. Some gentlemen of that university got the sheets from the press as fast as they were printed, and had answers ready to these books as soon as they came out, and thus in soine degree prevented their mischievous effects. F 3
The king,' finding that all his measures would be inevita, bly frustrated if the penal laws and tests were not taken off, by means of which his friends stood continually exposed, resolved to leave no method unattempted that might contribute to this design. The gaining the concurrence of the next - heirs would have been a very plausible plea with those who wese most averse to it; and therefore he resolved to try the Prince and Princess of Orange, to be fully certified of their sense and inclination. Their answer was
so strongly against any thing that would be dangerous to the Protestant religion, that the court was much disappointed ; many staggering per. sons were confirmed, the Church party were revived, and the Dissenters comforted, in hopes the liberty they had ob. tained was likely to prove lasting.
Upon the failure of this first project, his majesty adopted another, which, if it had succeeded, must have defeated the Protestant succession; and that was, providing the nation with an heir of his own body by the present queen, who had for some years been reckoned past child-bearing. Her pregnancy was accordingly proclaimed in the Gazette, Fan. 2. 1688, and a form of prayer appointed, drawn up by the bi. shops of Durham, Rochester, and Peterborough ; in which God was praised for fresh hopes of royal issue.
The form was as follows: “ Blessed be that good Provi. “ dence which has vouchsafed us fresh hopes of royal issue “ by our gracious queen Mary. Strengthen her we beseech " thee, and perfect what thou hast begun : command thy .: holy angels to watch over her continually, and defend her “ from all dangers and evil accidents, that what she has con, “ceived may be happily brought forth, to the joy of our so
vereign lord the king, the further establishment of his
crown, the happiness and welfare of his whole kingdom, “ and the glory of thy name, &c.” Had the Dissenters been obliged to use such a form, upon such an occasion, they would have thought it a great hardship.
About this time, commissioners were appointed by the king, and sent into several counties of England, to enquire what money or goods had been levied upon Dissenters upon prosecutions for recusancy, and not paid into the exchequer. Many were afraid of being called to an account ; and it was çommonly apprehended that a strict inquiry would have caused great confusion. Here the Dissenters had a fair opportunity of being revenged on many of their bitterest enemies : but they generously passed all by, upon the promises and assur,
ances that were given them by leading persons, both of the clergy and laity, that no such rigorous methods should ever be used toward them for the time to come, but that they might depend upon great temper and moderation for the future,
The king, emboldened with the prospect of a Popish suc. cessor, on April 27, renewed his Declaration for liberty of conscience, with some additions, and a promise to get it established by act of parliament. On May 4, an order was passed in council, that it should be read in all the churches ; and that all the bishops should take care to have the order obeyed. Those that should refuse to read it, were to be prosecuted by the ecclesiastical commissioners. The whole body of the clergy, with very few exceptions, refused, and seven of the bishops waited upon the king to give him their reasons; urging particularly, that the Declaration was founded upon such a dispensing power, as had often been declared in parliament illegal. Upon this they were imprisoned in the tower, indicted of a high misdemeanor, and tried at the king's bench, but they were acquitted with universal accla. mations.
While the bishops were under this prosecution, Abp. San. croft sent certain articles to his clergy through his whole province; the eleventh of which was in these words : " That
they also walk in wisdom toward them who are not of our * communion : more especially, that they have a very tender “ regard to our brethren, the Protestant Dissenters :- that they “ take all opportunities of assuring them, that the bishops of "this church are really and sincerely irreconcileable enemies " to the errors, superstitions, idolatries, and tyrannies of the r church of Rome :--and that they most affectionately ex" hort them to join with us in daily fervent prayer to the God peace,
for a universal blessed union of all reformed “ churches, both at home and abroad, against our common " enemies, &c. · The ecclesiastical commissioners, Aug. 16, sent forth their mandates to the chancellors, archdeacons, 3c. of every diocese in England, to make inquiry, by whom the king's order for reading the Declaration, had or had not been obeyed; that so all who had neglected it might be severely punished. This would have made most woeful havock all over the kingdom, had not the approaching Revolution put an effectual stop to this business. But it was not long before a rumour began to spread, that the Prince of Orange was coming with F4
a potent army and fleet from Holland, to rescue the nation from Popery and slavery. The king gave public notice of it by a Declaration dated the 4th of October. Upon which the measures of the court were entirely broken.
On the 4th of Nov. the Prince of Orange landed at Tor. bay, in the county of Devon. In his declaration dated at the Hague, Oct. 10, he gave an account of the reasons of his expedition into England. The body of the nation heartily fell in with the prince, and a mighty revolution was brought about without bloodshed. Interest wrought a sudden change in men's opinions. They who had always condemned the principle of taking up arms in defence of liberty and property, now thought it lawful, laudable, and necessary. But they were at this time under one difficulty, which produced a sensible conviction in many, of the great inconvenience of being confined to particular forms in divine worship : While they privately prayed for the Prince of Orange's prosperity, they were forced'in public to pray according to the liturgy, “ That God would be the defender and keeper of king James, " and give him victory over all his enemies." But God, to the unspeakable comfort of the nation, preferred their private prayers to their public ones.
The Prince came to St. James's on the 18th of December, and on the 21st a few of the Dissenting ministers waited upon him, with the bishop of London, congratulating him upon his glorious expedition, and its happy success. On the ed of Jan. the Dissenting ministers in a body, to the number of ninety or more, attended at St. James's, with suitable ad. dresses to the king and queen, presented by Dr. Bates,* and were very graciously received.
There were some who had concurred with the prince in his expedition for their own security, who afterwards, when their fears were over, were for compromising matters with K. James, and trusting his promises afresh. But the Con. vention that was then summoned by the Prince's letters, after warm debates, declared the throne to be vacant, K. James having abdicated the government, and broken the original contract with his people; to the no small mortification of such as had all along stifly denied that there was any contract between them. Hereupon, drawing up a Declaration for vin.
* These may be seen in Calamy, vol. 1, p. 42, 43.-Also in Neal's History of the Puritans, vol. v, p. 78, new edit, 8vo.
dicating the ancient rights and liberties of the people, they offered the crown to the Prince and Princess of Orange, who accepting it, were proclaimed king and queen of England, Feb. 13, 1689, and April 11 were crowned, with universal acclamation ; and none had a greater share in the common joy than the Dissenters, who considered this glorious revolution as the æra of their liberty, which was secured by law in the beginning of K. William's reign, by the passing of the Act of Toleration ; which has, through a kind providence, remained inviolate to this day; and the benefits of it have since been enlarged; a subscription to the thirty-nine articles being abolished. The act for this purpose was passed in 1779, after several fruitless applications of the dissenting ministers to parliament. The conditions which this act requires, of ministers and schoolmasters, are their taking the oaths of allegiance and supremacy, making the declaration against Popery, and assenting to their belief of the holy scripture as containing a divine revelation.