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Cromwell looked forth upon the world. That he ever argued it out, or was of a turn of mind for arguing it out, we need not suppose. Without ascending to those clouded and frowning heights, he established himself on the solid rock of Calvinistic faith that made their base. Simplification is the key-word to the Reformation, as it is to every other revolution with a moral core. The vast fabric of belief, practice, and worship which the hosts of popes, doctors, schoolmen, founders of orders, the saints and sages in all their classes and degrees, had with strong brains and devout hearts built up in the life and imagination of so many centuries, was brought back to the ideal of a single simplified relation—God, the Bible, the conscience of the individual man, and nothing more nor beyond. The substitution of the book for the church was the essence of the protestant revolt, and it was the essence of Cromwell's whole intellectual being. Like "the Christian Cicero," twelve centuries before, he said: "We who are instructed in the science of truth by the Holy Scriptures know the beginning of the world and its end." Cromwell's Bible was not what the Bible is to-day. Criticism, comparative, chronological, philological, historical, had not impaired its position as the direct word of God, a single book, one and whole, one page as inspired as another, one text as binding as another. Faith in the literal construction of the word was pushed to an excess as much resembling a true superstition or over-belief, as anything imputed to the catholics. Science had set up no reign of law, nor hinted a doubt on the probabilities of miraculous intervention. No physical theories had dimmed faith in acts of specific creation; the aerial perspective and vistas of time were very primitive. Whatever happened, great or small, was due to wrath or favour from above. When an organ was burned down in the new French church at the Hague, it was
an omen of the downfall of popery and prelacy. When the foreman superintending the building of a castle for the queen at Bristol fell from a ladder and broke his neck, it was a stupendous testimony against the Scarlet Woman. Tiverton, by holding its market on a Monday, made occasion for profaning the Lord's day, and so the town was burned to the ground. Fishermen one Sabbath morning, the sun shining hot upon the water, and a great company of salmon at play, were tempted to put forth, and they made a great draught, but God's judgment did not halt, for never more were fish caught there, and the neighbouring town was half ruined. People were tormented by no misgiving, as Ranke says, how "the secrets of divine things could be brought into such direct connection with the complications of human affairs." The God to whom Cromwell in heart as in speech appealed, was no stream of tendency, no supernaturalistic hypothesis, no transcendental symbol or synthesis, but the Lord of Hosts of the Old Testament. The saints and puritans were the chosen people. All the denunciations of the prophets against the oppressors of Israel were applied to the letter against bishops and princes. And Moses and Joshua, Gideon and Barak, Samson and Jephthah, were the antetypes of those who now in a Christian world thought themselves called, like those heroes of old time, to stop the mouths of lions and turn to flight the armies of the aliens. Cromwell is never weary of proclaiming that the things that have come to pass have been the wonderful works of God, breaking the rod of the oppressor. Great place and business in the world, he says, is not worth looking after; he does not seek such things: he is called to them, and is not without assurance that the Lord will enable his poor worm to do his will and fulfil his generation. The vital thing is to fear unbelief, self-seeking, confidence in the arm of flesh, and opinion of any instruments that they are other than as dry bones. Of dogma he rarely speaks. Religion to him is not dogma, but communion with a Being apart from dogma. "Seek the Lord and his face continually," he writes to Richard Cromwell, his son; "let this be the business of your life and strength, and let all things be subservient and in order to this." To Richard Mayor, the father of his son's wife, he says: "Truly our work is neither from our own brains nor from our courage and strength; but we follow the Lord who goeth before, and gather what he scattereth, that so all may appear to be from him." Such is ever the refrain, incessantly repeated, to his family, to the parliament, on the homely occasions of domestic life, in the time of public peril, in the day of battle, in the day of crowning victory; this is the spirit by which his soul is possessed. All work is done by a divine leading. He expresses lively indignation with the Scottish ministers, because they dared to speak of the battle of Dunbar, that marvellous dispensation, that mighty and strange appearance of God's, as a mere " event." So, too, he warns the Irish that if they resist they must expect what the providence of God will cast upon them, "in that which is falsely called the Chance of War."
To displace Calvinism, the aims of Laud and of wiser men than Laud, required a new spiritual basis, and this was found in the doctrines of the Dutch Arminius. They had arisen in Holland at the beginning of the century, marking there a liberal and rationalist reaction against Calvinistic rigour, and they were now welcomed by the Laudians as bringing a needed keystone to the quaking double arch of church and state. Arminianism had been condemned at the Synod of Dort (1619); but as a half
way house between Catholicism on the one hand and Calvinism on the other, it met a want in the minds of a rising generation in England who disliked Rome and Geneva equally, and sought to found an Anglocatholic school of their own. Laud concerned himself much less with the theology than with the latent politics of Arminianism, and in fact he usually denied that he was an Arminian. He said, as in truth many others in all times and places might have said, that the question was one beyond his faculties. It was as statesman rather than as keeper of the faith that he discerned the bearings of the great Dutch heresy, which was to permeate the Church of England for many a generation to come. In Arminianism Predestination was countered by Free Will; implacable Necessity by room for merciful Contingency; Man the Machine by Man the self-determining agent, using means, observing conditions. How it is that these strong currents and cross-currents of divinity land men at the two antipodes in politics, which seem out of all visible relation with divinity, we need not here attempt to trace. Unseen, non-logical, fugitive, and subtle are the threads and fine filaments of air that draw opinion to opinion. They are like the occult affinities of the alchemist, the curious sympathies of old physicians, or the attraction of hidden magnets. All history shows us how theological ideas abound in political aspects to match, and Arminianism, which in Holland itself had sprung into vogue in connection with the political dispute between Barneveldt and Prince Maurice, rapidly became in England the corner-stone of faith in a hierarchy, a ceremonial church, and a monarchy. This is not the less true because in time the course of events drew some of the presbyterian phalanx further away from Calvinism than they would have thought possible in earlier days, when, like other puritans, they deemed Arminianism no better than a fore-court of popery, atheism, Socinianism, and all the other unholy shrines. To the student of opinions viewing the theological controversy of Cromwell's time with impartial eye, it is clear that, while Calvinism inspired incomparable energy, concentration, resolution, the rival doctrine covered a wider range of human nature, sounded more abiding depths, and comprehended better all the many varied conditions under which the "poor worm of Calvin and of Cromwell strives to make the best of itself and to work out the destinies of its tiny day. "Truth," said Arminius, "even theological truth, has been sunk in a deep well, whence it cannot be drawn forth without much effort." This the wise world has long found out. But these pensive sayings are ill suited for a time when the naked sword is out of its sheath. Each side believed that it was the possessor at least of truth enough to fight for; and what is peculiar in the struggle is that each party and sub-division of a party, from King Charles down to the Leveller and the Fifth Monarchy Man, held his ideal of a church inseparably bound up with his ideal of the rightly ordered state. IV In the sardonic dialogue upon these times which he called Behemoth, Hobbes says that it is not points necessary to salvation that have raised all the quarrels, but questions of authority and power over the church, or of profit and honour to churchmen. In other words, it has always been far less a question of what to believe, than of whom to believe.