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JUXON, At the beginning of this session, the parliament repealed an Abp. Cant, act passed in the last reign, “ For disabling all persons in 17 Charles l. holy orders to exercise any temporal jurisdiction or authority.”
To give some account of the proceedings of the convocation The proceed- during the time the Act of Uniformity was going forward in ings in the convocation. parliament. Synod. To begin : the bishop of London, as president, and the rest Anglican. Append. of the bishops, consulted touching a subscription to the three Pa 108 209. articles in the thirty-sixth canon ; and referred the drawing
13 Charles 2.
not be thought, he would, from a pure principle of honour and honesty, quarrel with a parliament so favourable to him, for the sake of the Presbyterians, whom he neither did, nor had reason to love. There was nothing, therefore, but what might be expected from his complaisance, pro ded car was taken to supply him with money. Such a juncture was not to be neglected.
65. But there was another still more powerful cause of the parliament's severity against the Presbyterians : this was the interest of the Papists, who had ever a great influence during this reign. Some made an open profession of their religion, and yet were looked upon with a very favourable eye by the court. Others, after the king's example, pretended to be good Protestants, and zealous members of the Church of England, in order to be more serviceable to their party. The first used their utmost endeavours to incite the parliament to a severe treatment of the Presbyterians, in order to destroy a party which had so openly declared against the royal power. The others, concealing themselves under a false zeal for the Protestant religion, laboured with the same ardour to excite the enmity of the heads of the Church of England, and of those whom they knew to be most warm against men, who would not spare them, if ever they were in a condition to ruin them, as they had manifestly shown. But while they were thus zealously labouring to bring things to extremities, they were endeavouring, on the other hand, by their emissaries, to encourage the Presbyterians, and exhort them to the closest union, by insinuating it to be the most effectual means to defeat the measures of their enemies. They were told their number was so great, that, in all likelihood, it would deter the parliament from attempting the ruin of so many at once for fear of exciting new troubles. Whereas, if their party should divide, they would be insensibly and irrecoverably ruined. In short, to induce them the more easily not to despair, they were told, the king, provoked with the ill-treatment they received, notwithstanding his promise to them, would protect them openly if they would remain united; but a division would put it out of his power to do them any service. It is certain the court was in this disposition, not from any pity to the Presbyterians, or regard to the king's honour, but from the hopes that the union amongst the Nonconformists would procure them more favourable conditions, of which the Papists might make an advantage. But when I say the court, I do not pretend to include the earl of Clarendon, though prime minister. This justice must be done him, to say, that not only he did not contribute to the designs of the king and the Papists, but was the man that broke their measures, by secret intrigues, well knowing what was concealed under this feigned moderation of the king to the Presbyterians. However, the king, the duke of York, and the other leading Papists, believed it necessary to push the Presbyterians, and then encourage them to hold together, that the danger arising from their union might prevail with the parliament to grant to all the Nonconformists in general, a toleration which should extend to the Papists. This is not a bare conjecture. All the king's proceedings demonstrate this was the scheme he had formed 1.
up a form of subscription to a committee of bishops. It was CHARLES likewise resolved by the upper house, that no ordination of clerks should be made by any bishop but only within the four Ember weeks solemnly appointed for that purpose ; and that no bishop should ordain beyond the bounds of his own district, unless by letters dimissory first obtained from the lord archbishop of Canterbury. Three forms of prayer for the 5th of November, April 25. the 30th of January, and the 29th of May, were brought up into the upper house and unanimously approved; and the care of translating the Book of Common Prayer into Latin was committed to Dr. John Earl, dean of Westminster, and Dr. John Pearson. A few days forward, the president and bishops held id. p. 110. a debate upon a message received from the house of commons May 10. touching “ reverent and uniform gestures and demeanours at the time of divine service :" and here it was agreed by the majority that the constitution in the book of canons, made in the year 1603, and entitled “Of solemn reverence to be used in time of Divine Service,” it was agreed, I say, this constitution should be laid before the house of commons, having been first considered by the lower house of convocation. After two days this constitution was brought up to the bishops from the lower house, with some amendments, to which their lordships Id. agreed. And now, without making any farther progress, the
May 16. convocation was prorogued by the king's writ to February the 19th, next ensuing.
In December following, his majesty set forth a declaration, Dec. 26. in which, amongst other things," he declared his resolution to The king's maintain the Act of Uniformity; only he should dispense with for insinusome matters in it.”
And in his speech at the next session ting an inhe concluded with a smooth intimation of some indulgence the Noncon
formists. granted to Dissenters. The mention of this favour was couched in wary and gentle expressions, and which seemed almost to give up the dispensing power. His majesty's words are these : “ that if the Dissenters would demean themselves peaceably and modestly, he could heartily wish he had such power of indulgence to use upon occasion.”
The house of commons might probably suspect this toleration might comprehend more persuasions than they desired should be sheltered; and over and above they might be apprehensive the dispensing in this manner would carry the prerogative too far, press the constitution, and bear down upon
JUXON, property and civil right. In short, they resolved to present Abp. Cant.
an address, importing “ that it was the humble advice of their house that no indulgence be granted to Dissenters from the Act of Uniformity.” They likewise ordered a committee “to collect and bring in the reasons of the house for this vote.” The next day a report was made to the house from the committee by sir Heneage Finch, his majesty's solicitor-general ; and after some amendments, the address was agreed, and presented by the speaker to his majesty at the banqueting-house at Whitehall. I shall insert only that part of their application in which their reasonings are mentioned.
“ We have considered,” say they, “the nature of your majesty's declaration from Breda, and are humbly of opinion that your majesty ought not to be pressed with it any farther.
“ Because it is not a promise in itself, but only a gracious declaration of your majesty's intentions, to do what in you lay, and what a parliament should advise your majesty to do; and no such advice was ever given, or thought fit to be offered ; nor could it be otherwise understood, because there were laws of uniformity then in being, which could not be dispensed with but by act of parliament.
“ That they who do pretend a right to that supposed promise, put the right into the hands of the representatives, whom they chose to serve for them in this parliament, who have passed, and your majesty consented to, the Act of Uniformity ; if any shall presume to say, that a right to the benefit of this declaration doth still remain after this act passed.
“ It tends to dissolve the very bonds of government, and to suppose a disability in your majesty and the houses of parliament, to make a law contrary to any part of your majesty's declaration, though both houses should advise your majesty to it.
“ We have also considered the nature of the indulgence proposed, with reference to those consequences that must necessarily attend it.
“ It will establish schism by a law, and make the whole government of the Church precarious, and the censures of it of no moment or consideration at all,
" It will no way become the gravity or wisdom of a parlia
ment, to pass a law at one session for uniformity, and at the CHARLES next session (the reasons of uniformity continuing still the same) to pass another law to frustrate or weaken the execution of it.
“ It will expose your majesty to the restless importunity of every sect or opinion, and of every single person also, who shall presume to dissent from the Church of England.
“ It will be a cause of increasing sects and sectaries, whose numbers will weaken the true Protestant profession so far, that it will at least be difficult for it to defend itself against them : and, which is yet farther considerable, those numbers, which by being troublesome to the government, find they can arrive at an indulgence, will, as their numbers increase, be yet more troublesome, that so at length they may arrive at a general toleration, which your majesty hath declared against ; and in time some prevalent sect will at last contend for an establishment, which, for aught can be foreseen, may end in popery.
“ It is a thing altogether without precedent, and will take away all means of convicting recusants, and be inconsistent with the method and proceedings of the laws of England.
Lastly, it is humbly conceived, that the indulgence proposed will be so far from tending to the peace of the kingdom, that it is rather likely to occasion great disturbance. And on the contrary, that the asserting of the laws and religion established, according to the Act of Uniformity, is the most probable means to produce a settled peace and obedience throughout your kingdom : because the variety of professions in England, when openly indulged, doth directly distinguish men into parties, and withal gives them opportunity to count their numbers; which, considering the animosities, that out of a religious pride will be kept on foot by the several factions, doth tend directly and inevitably to open disturbance.
“ Nor can your majesty have any security, that the doctrine or worship of the several factions, which are all governed by a several rule, shall be consistent with the peace of your kingdom.”
His majesty gave them hearty thanks for their address, acknowledged that never any king was so happy in a house of commons, as himself in this ; telling them withal, that their paper and reasons being long, he should take time to consider them, and send them a message.
The king inclined to make the Dissenters easy.
JUXON, By this answer, and his late declaration, we may collect, Abp.Cant, the king was unwilling to part with the toleration. Whether
this unwillingness proceeded from good nature, or to make a return to some of the Nonconformists for promoting the Restoration ; or because he thought the public tranquillity might be better preserved by such usage : which of these motives, or whether all of them affected his majesty, cannot certainly be determined: but it is pretty plain, he was not a little desirous the indulgence should have passed, and that the non-complying divines should have been gently treated, and suffered to live at their ease.
The next remarkable occurrence was the providing a better maintenance for the clergy. The appropriations of rectories made by the popes to religious houses; the secular views of some great persons of the temporalty at the Reformation, continuing the alienation of the great tithes, and settling them upon the laity; and farther depredations being afterwards made upon the patrimony of the Church ;—this unfortunate conduct had reduced many of the parochial clergy to a lamentable condition. In many towns the whole profits were appropriated, and only a slender stipend allowed to the person officiating. In many others a vicarage was settled, but so meanly endowed, that a vicar, though without the charge of a family, could not tolerably subsist upon it. This mismanagement of the consecrated revenues has been the calamity and scandal of the nation. For without a competent settlement for the parochial clergy, it was reasonably concluded the Church of England could never be happily established. And in regard many of the impropriate rectories were annexed to sees, to cathedral and collegiate bodies, and other ecclesiastical dignities, it was thought proper the precedent for restitution should be set by the bishops and clergy: the ecclesiastics being, at that juncture, particularly furnished for augmenting slender livings, upon the score of the considerable fines lately received by them. For this purpose a bill was depending in parliament for laying down rules and proportions to be observed in the augmentation of poor vicarages, and other cures not competently endowed. But the disadvantages arising from the
1 Charles II. had been well initiated in the syncretic policy of Grotius, he was also a man of the world, and illustrated the text, that “the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light.”