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religious rites and ceremonies, which, though stamped with the sanction of antiquity, were nevertheless marked with the turpitude of superstition, and had been justly abrogated on that account; he forced bishops upon the Scots nation, which was zealously attached to the discipline and ecclesiastical polity of Geneva, and had shown, on all occasions, the greatest reluctance against an episcopal government; and lastly, he gave many and very plain intimations, that he looked upon the Romish church, with all its errors, as more pure, more holy, and preferable upon the whole, to those protestant churches that were not subject to the jurisdiction of bishops. By these his unpopu
with an ambiguous declaration prefixed to them, which might tend to silence or discourage the reigning controversies between the Calvinists and Arminians, and thus secure to the latter an unmolested state, in which they would daily find their power growing under the countenance and protection of the court. This declaration, which, in most editions of the Common Prayer, is still to be found at the head of the Articles, is a most curious piece of political theology: and had it not borne bard upon the right of private judgment, and been evidently designed to favour one party, though it carried the aspect of a perfect neutrality, it might have been looked upon as a wise and provident measure to secure the tranquillity of the church. For, in the tenor of this declaration, precision was sacrificed to prudence and ambiguity; nay, even contradictions were preferred before consistent, clear, and positive decisions, that might have fomented dissensions and discord. The declaration seemed to favour the Calvinists, since it prohibited the affixing any new sense to any article ; it also savoured, in effect, the Arminians, as it ordered all curious search about the contested points to be laid aside, and these disputes to be shut up in God's promises, as they are generally set forth to us in the holy Scriptures, and the general meaning of the articles of the church of England according to them. But what was singularly preposterous in this declaration was, its being designed to favour the Arminians, and yet prohibiting expressly any person, either in their sermons or writings, to put his own sense or comment to be the meaning of the article, and ordering them, on the contrary, to take each article in its literal and grammatical sense, and to submit to it in the full and plain meaning thereof; for certainly if the seventeenth article has a plain, literal, and grammatical meaning, it is a meaning unfavourable to Arminianism; and bishop Burnet was obliged afterward to acknowledge, that without enlarging the sense of the articles, the Arminians could not subscribe them consistently with their opinions, nor without violating the demands of common ingenuity. See Burnet's Remarks on the Examination of his Exposition, &c. p. 3.
This renders it probable that the declaration now mentioned, in which we see no royal signature, no attestation of any officer of the crown, no date, in short, no mark to show where, when, or by what authority it was issued out, was not composed in the reign of king Charles. · Bishop Burnet indeed was of opinion, that it was composed in that reign to support the Arminians, who, when they were charged with departing from the true sense of the articles, answered, " that they took the articles in their literal and grammatical sense, and therefore did not prevaricate." But this reasoning does not appear conclusive to the acute and learned author of the Confessional. He thinks it more probable, that the declaration was composed, and first published, in the latter part of king James's reign; for though, says bė, there be no evidence that James ever turned Arminian in principle, yet that was the party that stuck to him in his measures, and which it became necessary for him on that account to bumour, and to render respectable in the eyes of the people, by every expedient that might not bring any reflection on his own consistency. “And whoever," continues this author,“ considers the quibbling and equivocal terms in wbich this instrument is drawn, will, I am persuaded, observe the distress of a man divided between his principles and his interests, that is, of a man exactly in the situation of king James I. in the three last years of his reign." It is likely then, that this declaration was only republished at the head of the articles which were reprinted by the order of Charles I. VOL. IV.
lar sentiments and violent measures, Laud drew an odium on the king, on himself, and on the episcopal order in general. Hence, in the year 1644, he was brought before the public tribunals of justice, declared guilty of high treason, and condemned to lose his head on a scaffold; which sentence was accordingly executed.
After the death of Laud, the dissensions that had reigned for a long time between the king and parliament, grew still more violent, and arose at length to so great a height, that they could not be extinguished but by the blood of that excellent prince. The great council of the nation, heated by the violent suggestions of the puritans and independents," abolished episcopal government; condemned and abrogated every thing in the ecclesiastical establishment that was contrary to the doctrine, worship, and discipline of the church of Geneva; turned the vehemence of their opposition against the king himself, and having brought him into their power by the fate of arms, accused him of treason against the majesty of the nation; and, in the year 1648, while the eyes of Europe were fixed with astonishment on this strange spectacle, caused his head to be struck off on a public scaffold. Such are the calamities that flow from religious zeal without knowledge, from that enthusiasm and bigotry that inspire a blind and immoderate attachment to the external and unessential parts of religion, and to certain doctrines ill understood! These broils and tumults served also unhappily to confirm the truth of an observation often made, that all religious sects, while they are kept under and oppressed, are remarkable for inculcating the duties of moderation, forbearance, and charity toward those who dissent from them; but, as soon as the scenes of persecution are removed, and they, in their turn, arrive at power and pre-eminence, they forget their own precepts and maxims, and leave both the recommendation and practice of charity to those that groan under their yoke. Such, in reality, was the conduct and behaviour of the puritans during their transitory exaltation ; they showed as little clemency and equity to the bishops and other patrons of episcopacy, as they had received from them when the reins of government were in their hands.
n The origin of this sect has been already mentioned. o Besides Clarendon and the other writers of English history already mentioned, see Neale's History of the Purilans, vol. ij. and vi.
HISTORY OF THE REFORMED CHURCH,
XXI. The Independents, who have been just mentioned among the promoters of civil discord in England,
The Indepenare generally represented by the British writers in dents. a much worse light than the Presbyterians or Calvinists. They are commonly accused of various enormities, and are even charged with the crime of parricide, as having borne a principal part in the death of the king. But whoever will be at the pains of examining, with impartiality and attention, the writings of that sect, and their confession of faith, must soon perceive, that many crimes have been imputed to them without foundation, and will probably be induced to think, that the bold attempts of the civil Independents, i. e. of those warm republicans who were the declared enemies of monarchy, and wanted to extend the liberty of the people beyond all bounds of wisdom and prudence, have been unjustly laid to the charge of those Independents, whose principles were merely of a religious kind. The religious Independents derive their denomina
'p The sect of the Independents is of recent date, and still subsists in England : there is, nevertheless, not one either of the ancient or modern sects of Christians, that is less known, or bas been more loaded with groundless aspersions and reproaches. The most eminent English writers, not only among the patrons of Episcopacy, but even among those very Presbyterians with whom they are now united, have thrown out against them the bitterest accusations, and the severest invectives that the warmest indignation could invent. They bave not only been represented as delirious, mad, sanatical, illiterate, factious, and ignorant both of natural and revealed religion, but also as abandoned to all kinds of wickedness and sedition, and as the only authors of the odious parricide committed on the person of Charles I.* And as the authors who have given these representations are considered by foreigners as the best and most authentic relaters of the transactions that have passed in their own country, and are therefore followed as the surest guides, the Independents appear, almost every where, under the most unfavourable aspect. It must indeed be candidly acknowledged, that as every class and order of men consists of persons of very different characters and qualities, so also the sect of Independents has been dishonoured by several turbulent, factious, prodigate, and Nagitious members. But, if it is a constant maxim with the wise and prudent, not to judge of the spirit and principles of a sect from the actions or expressions of a handful of its members, but from the manners, customs, opinions, and behaviour of the generality of those who compose it, from the writings and discourses of its learned men, and from its public and avowed forms of doctrine and consessions of faith ; then, I make no doubt, but that, by this rule of estimating matters, the Independents will appear to have been unjustly loaded with so many accusations and reproaches.
We shall take no notice of the invidious and severe animadversions that have been made upon this religious community by Clarendon, Echard, Parker, and so many other writers. To set this whole matter in the clearest and most impartial light, we shall confine ourselves to the account of the Independents given by a writer, justly celebrated by the English themselves, and who, though a foreigner, is generally supposed to have had an accurate knowledge of the British nation, its bistory, its parties, its sects, and revolutions. This writer is. Rapin Thoyras, who, in the twenty-first book of his History of England, vol. ii. p. 514, edit. folio, represents the Independents under such horrid
* Durell, whom, nevertheless, Lewis de Moulin, the most zealous defender of the Independents, commends on account of his ingenuity and candour, in his Historia Rituum Sanctæ Ecclesia Anglicana, cap. i. p. 4. expresses himself thus: “Fateor, si atrocis illius Tragediæ tot actus fuerint, quot ludicrarum esse solent postremum fere Independentium fuisse. Adeo ut non acute magis quam vere, dixerit L'Estrangius Noster ; Regem primo a Presbyterianis interemtum. Carolum deinde ab Independentibus interfectum."
tion from the following principle, which they held in common with the Brownists, that every Christian congrega
colours, that, were his portrait just, they would not deserve to enjoy the light of the sun, or to breathe the free air of Britain, much less to be treated with indulgence and esteem by those who have the cause of virtue at heart. Let us now examine the account wbich this illustrious historian gives of this sect. He declares, in the first place, that, notwith. standing all the pains he had taken to trace out the true origin of it, bis inquiries had been entirely fruitless ; his words are, as translated by Mr. Tindal, “ After all my pains, I have not been able to diseover, precisely, the first rise of the Independent sect, or saetion.” It is very surprising to bear a man of learning, who had employed seventeen years in composing the history of England, and had admittance to so many rich and famous libraries, express his ignorance of a matter about which it was so easy to acquire ample information. Had be only looked into the work of the learned Hornbeck, entitled, Summa Controversiarum, lib. x. p. 775, he would have found, in a moment, what he had been so long and so laboriously seeking in vain. Rapin proceeds to the doctrines and opinions of the Independents, and begins here, by a general declaration of their tendency to throw the nation into disorder and combustion ; his words are, “ Thus much is certain, their principles were very proper to put the kingdom in a game; and this they did effectually." What truth there is in this assertion, will be seen by what follows. Their sentinents concerning government were, if we are to believe this writer, of the most pernicious kind; since, according to him, they wanted to overturn the monarchy, and to establish a democracy in its place; his words are, “With regard to the state, they abhorred monarchy, and approved only a republican government.” I will not pretend to devy, that there were among the Independents several persons that were no friends to a kingly government; persons of this kind were to be found among the Presbyterians, Anabaptists, and all the other religious sects and communities that flourished in England during this tumultuous period; but I want to see it proved in an evident and satisfactory manner, that these republican principles were embraced by all the Independents, and formed one of the distinguishing characteristics of that sect. There is, at least, no such thing to be found in their public writings. They declared, on the contrary, in a public memorial drawn up by them in the year 1647, that, as magistracy in general is the ordinance of God,“ they do not disapprove of any form of civil government, but do freely acknowledge, that a kingly government, bounded by just and wholesome laws, is both allowed by God, and also a good accommodation unto men.” I omit the mention of several other circumstances, which unite to prove that the Independents were far from looking with abhorrence on a monarchical government.
Their sentiments of religion, according to Rapin's account, were highly absurd, since be represents their principles as entirely opposite to those of all other religious communities; As to religion,” says he, “ their principles were contrary to those of all the rest of the world.” With respect to this accusation, it may be proper to observe, that there are extant two Confessions of Faith, one of the English Independents, in Holland, and Another drawn up by the principal members of that community in England. The former was composed by John Robinson, the founder of the sect, and was published at Leyden, in 4to. in the year 1619, under the following title ; 'Apologia pro exulibus Anglis, qui Brownistæ vulgo appellantur;' the latter appeared at London, for the first time, in the year 1658, and was thus entitled ; 'A declaration of the faith and order owned and prac. tised in the congregational churches in England, agreed upon, and consented unto, by their elders and messengers, in their meeting at the Savoy, October 12, 1658.' Hornbeck gave, in the year 1659, a Latin translation of this declaration, and subjoined it to bis ' Epistolæ ad Duræum de Independentismo. It appears evidently from these two public and autbentic pieces, not to mention other writings of the Independents, that they differed from the Presbyterians or Calvinists in no single point of any consequence, except that of ecclesiastical government. To put this matter beyond all doubt, we have only to attend to the following passage in Robinson's ' Apology for the English Exiles,' p. 7, 11, wbere that founder of the sect of the Independents expresses his own private sentiments, and those of his community, in the plainest manner; Profitemur coram Deo et hominibus, adeo nobis convenire cum Ecclesiis Reformatis, Belgicis in re religionis, ut omnibus et singulis earundem Ecclesiarum fidei articulis, prout habentur in Harmonia confessionum fidei, parati simus subscribere. Ecclesias Reformatas pro veris et genuinis habemus, cum iisdem in sacris Dci communionem profitemur, et, quantum in nobis est, colimus." It appears evident from this declaration, that, instead of differing totally from all other Christian societies, it may rather be said of the Independents, that they were perfectly agreed with by far the greatest part of the reformed churches. To
tion ought to be governed by its own laws, without depending on the jurisdiction of bishops, or being subject to
show, as he imagines, by a striking example, the absurdity of their religion and worship, our eminent historian tells us, that they not only reject all kind of ecclesiastical government, but moreover allow all their members, promiscuously, and without exception, to perform in public the pastoral functions, i. e. to preach, pray, and expound the Scriptures; his words are, “ They were not only averse to episcopacy and the ecclesiastical hierarchy," this charge is true, but it may equally be brought against the Presbyterians, Brownists, Anabaptists, and all the various sects of non-conformists, " but they would not so much as endure ordinary ministers in the church. They maintained, that every man might pray in public, exhort his brethren, and interpret the Scriptures according to the talents God had endowed bim with. So with them every one preached, prayed, admonished, interpreted the holy Scriptures, without any other call than what he himself drew from his zeal and supposed gifts, and without any other authority than the approbation of his auditors." This whole charge is evidently false and groundless. The Independents bave, and always have bad, fixed and regular ministers approved of by their people; nor do they allow to teach in public, every person who thinks himself qualified for that important office. The celebrated historian has here confounded the Independents with the Brownists, who, as is well known, permitted all to pray and preach in public without distinction. We shall not enlarge upon the other mistakes he has fallen into on this subject; but only observe, that if so eminent a writer, and one so well acquainted with the English nation, has pronounced such an unjust sentence against this sect, we may the more easily excuse an inferior set of authors, who have loaded them with groundless accusations.
It will however be alleged, that, whatever may have been the religious sentiments and discipline of the Independents, innumerable testimonies concur in proving, that they were chargeable with the death of Charles I. and many will consider this single circumstance as a sufficient demonstration of the impiety and deprarity of the whole sect. I am well aware indeed that many of the most eminent and respectable English writers have given the independents the denomination of Regicides; and if, by the term Independents, they mean those licentious republicans, whose dislike of a monarchical form of government carried them the most pernicious and extravagant lengths, 1 grant that this denomination is well applied. But if, by the term Independents, we are to understand a religious sect, the ancestors of those who still bear the same title in England, it appears very questionable to me, whether the unhappy fate of the worthy prince above mentioned ought to be imputed entirely to that set of men. They who affirm that the Independents were the only authors of the death of king Charles, must mean one of these two things, either that the regicides were animated and set on by the seditious doctrines of that sect, and the violent suggestions of its members, or that all who were concerned in this atrocious deed were themselves Independents, zealously attached to the religious community now under consideration. Now it may be proved, with the clearest evidence, that neither of these was the case. There is nothing in the doctrine of this sect, so far as they are known to me, that seems in the least adapted to excite men to such a horrid deed; nor does it appear from the history of these times, that the Independents were a whit more exasperated against Charles, than were the Presbyterians. And as to the latter supposi. tion, it is far from being true, that all those wbo were concerned in bringing this unfortunate prince to the scaffold were Independents ;- since we learn from the best English writers, and from the public declarations of Charles II. that this violent faction was composed of persons of different sects. That there were Independents among them, may be easily conceived. After all, this matter will be best unravelled by the English writers, who know best in wbat sense the term Independents is used, when it is applied to those who brought Charles I. to the block.*
* Dr. Mosheim's defence of the Independents is certainly specious ; but he has not suffi. ciently distinguished the times; and he has perhaps, in defending them, strained too far that equitable principle, that we must not impute to a sect any principles that are not contained in, or deducible froma, their religious system. This maxim does not entirely answer here the purpose for which it is applied. The religious system of a sect may be in itself pacific and innocent, while, at the same time, certain incidental circumstances, or certain associations of ideas, may render that sect more turbulent and restless than others, or at least involve it in political factions and broils. Such perhaps was the case of the independents at certain periods of time, and more especially at the period now under consideration. When we consider their religious form of government, we shall see evidently, that a principle of analogy, which
iufluences the sentiments and imaginations of men, much more than is generally supposed, must naturally have led the greatest part of them to republican notions of civil government : and it is further