Page images
PDF
EPUB
[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

to petition, to remonstrate with, and dictate to, the parliament and its committee, and to oppose the acts of the parliament and the government of the committee, when his own direct influence had failed, especially in the affair of the duke's engagement. The commission of the kirk called it the unlawful Engagement ; and for some considerable time, instead of the saving truths of Jesus Christ, it was the only subject of their sermons; and by a decree of the Assembly, all who had any concern in it were excommunicated, unless they did penance in sackcloth at the kirk door, after the manner of those who had been guilty of adultery or fornication. “This," says Dr. Cockburn,“ to my certain knowledge, turned many to be atheists and irreligious, who concluded from thence all religion and all designs of clergymen to be only hypocrisy and cheat?.” At the same time, as a member of the committee of estates, Argyle adopted their advice, which, in fact, he had prompted, and while he was working out his own plans, he gave to the commission an importance and a position which they could not otherwise have had, and enabled them to meddle with affairs of state, as the directors of the government. Hence Argyle was usually called the DICTATOR.

· A specimen of some free and impartial remarks on public affairs and particular persons, especially relating to Scotland, occasioned by Dr. Burnet's History of his Own Times, by John Cockburn, D.D. p. 51.

236

CHAPTER XXII.

ARCHBISHOP LAUD, THE PURITANS, AND THE WESTMINSTER

ASSEMBLY.

Origin of the puritans—chancellor Puckering's opinion of them—their practices

their grand principle—their separation-set up separate meetings—disputes about the habits—a presbytery and lay-elders—Neal's character of them.More grievances.- Introduction of extemporary prayers.–Faithful Cumminshis artifices and practices.—Thomas Heth's preaching.–The millennary peti. tion.—The Hampton Court conference.—Plans of the puritans.—Archbishop Abbot.-Fuller's description of non-conformity --Practices of the papists.Puritan grievances presented to king Charles's first parliament-the king's embarrassment-remonstrances.-Prynne and others prosecuted.--Archbishop Laud.—Puritans the majority in parliament.-Proceedings of the Commons. Dr. Laud committed to the Tower—his persecution there-Scots commissioners accuse him before the peers—impeached of high treason—the prosecution-his defence—the charges against him—a bill of attainder-condemned—his speech on the scaffold-his execution—the papists rejoice.-Common prayer abolished.

— The directory appointed—the king's remarks on it.- Persecution of the church. The bishops assaulted—their houses turned into prisons.—Clergy imprisoned in ships.-Number of the clergy ejected.-Sacrilege.-Westminster assembly of divines called—the manner of electing the members—their mode of procedure.--The king cries down the assembly by proclamation.—A fast.—The covenant sworn.-The Scots ministers admitted to the assembly.--A persecu. tion for refusing to sign the covenant.—Clergy ejected.-Committee for plundered ministers.—Effects of the covenant.—Three parties in the assembly.-The directory established.—The confession of faith—its fundamental principle the eternal decree-remarks on it.—Distinction betwixt the civil and ecclesiastical powers.-Remarks.-Other articles.- Intolerance. --A new method of supplying the want of ordination,

In queen Elizabeth's reign the dissenters were called Puritans, because, says Bishop Hurd," they aimed at a purer reformation; but the worst of all was, they wanted to reform the church, without reforming themselves.” They made extraordinary pretensions to superior sanctity of manners, and for the purification of the church, which, they said, was not sufficiently pure from Romish corruptions. When the reformation was decidedly established after the accession of Elizabeth,

some of the Romish clergy, who were in possession of benefices, pretended to conform; but kept up a constant opposition to the sober ceremonies of the established church, and made the most strenuous efforts to procure their abolition. Elizabeth entertained a rooted dislike to the puritans, and was inexorable in pressing the execution of the act of uniformity; and they were equally unfriendly to her government, and were instrumental in the Spanish invasion in 1588. In that year

the lord chancellor Puckering communicated the queen's opinion of them in his speech in the house of lords :—“You are especially commanded by her majesty to take heed that no ear be given nor time afforded to the wearisome solicitations of those that commonly be called puritans, wherewithal the late parliaments have been exceedingly importuned; which sort of men whilst that in the giddiness of their spirits) they labour and strive to advance a new eldership, they do nothing else but disturb the good repose of the church and commonwealth, which is as well grounded for the body of religion itself, and as well guided for the discipline, as any realm that confesses the truth. And the same is already made good to the world by many of the writings of godly and learned men, neither answered nor answerable by any of these new-fangled refiners. And, as the case standeth, it may be doubted whether they or the jesuits du offer more danger, or be more speedily to be repressed; for albeit the jesuits do empoison the hearts of her majesty's subjects, under a pretext of conscience, to withdraw themselves from their obedience due to her majesty, yet they do the same but closely and in privy corners, but these men (the puritans] do both teach and publish in their printed books, and teach in their conventicles, sundry opinions not only dangerous to a well settled estate and the policy of the realm, by putting a pique betwixt the clergy and the laity, but also much derogatory to her sacred majesty and her crown, as well by the diminution of her ancient and lawful revenues, and by denying her highness's prerogative and supremacy, as by offering peril to her majesty's safety in her own kingdom. In all which things, (however in such things they pretend to be at war with the popish jesuits,) yet, by separation of themselves from the unity of their fellow subjects, and by abasing the sacred authority and majesty of their prince, they do both join and concur with the jesuits in opening the door and preparing the way to the Spanish invasion that is threatened against the realm.”

It may be observed, from his lordship's words, that they excited an agitation, by perpetually presenting petitions to par

« PreviousContinue »