תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

of their eloquence; but they did not go so far as to look upon it as of divine institution, or as absolutely and indispensably necessary to the constitution of a Christian church; and hence they maintained, that those who followed other forms of government and worship, were not, on that account, to be excluded from their communion, or to forfeit the title of brethren. As to the doctrinal part of religion, they took the system of the famous Episcopius for their model; and, like him, reduced the fundamental doctrines of Christianity, i. e. those doctrines, the belief of which is necessary to salvation, to a few points. By this manner of proceeding they showed, that neither the Episcopalians, who, generally speaking, embraced the sentiments of the Arminians, nor the Presbyterians and Independents, who as generally adopted the doctrine of Calvin, had any reason to oppose each other with such animosity and bitterness, since the subjects of their debates were matters of an indifferent nature, with respect to salvation, and might be variously explained and understood without any prejudice to their eternal interests. The chief leaders of these latitudinarians were Hales and Chillingworth, whose names are still pronounced in England with that veneration that is due to distinguished wisdom and rational piety." The respectable names of More, Cudworth, Gale, Whichcot, and Tillotson, add a high degree of lustre to this eminent list. The undertaking of these great men was indeed bold and perilous; and it drew upon them much opposition and many bitter reproaches. They received, as the first fruits of their cbaritable zeal, the odious appellations of atheists, deists, and Socinians, both from the Roman catholics, and the more rigid of the contending protestant parties; but, upon the restoration of king Charles II, they were raised to the first dignities of the

d The life of the ingenious and worthy Mr. Hales was composed in English by M. Des Maizeaux, and published in 8vo. at London, in the year 1719; it was considerably augmented in the Latin translation of it, which I prefixed to the account of the synod of Dort, drawn from the letters of that great man, and published at Hamburgh in 1724. A life of Mr. Hales, written in French, is to be found in the first volume of the French translation of Chillingworth's “ Religion of Protestants," &c. The life of Chillingworth also was drawn' up by Des Maizeaux in English ; and a French translation of it appeared, in the year 1730, at the head of the excellent bcok now menu tioned, which was translated into that language, and published at Amsterdam, in three volumes, 8vo. in the year 1730. Those who are desirous of acquiring a thorough knowledge of the doctrines, government, laws, and present state of the church of England, will do well to read the history of these two men ; and more especially to peruse Chillingworth's admirable book already mentioned, I mean, “ The Religion of Protestants a safe Way to Salvation."

the church of England under harles II. and bis

church, and were deservedly held in universal esteem. It is also well known, that, even at this present time, the church of England is chiefly governed by latitudinarians of this kind, though there be among both bishops and clergy, from time to time, ecclesiastics who breathe the narrow and despotic spirit of Laud, and who, in the language of faction, are called high churchmen, or church tories.

xxv. No sooner was Charles II. re-established on the The siate of throne of his ancestors, than the ancient forms of

" ecclesiastical government and public worship were der ancharles restored with him; and the bishops reinstated in successors. their dignities and honours. The nonconformists hoped that they should be allowed to share some part of the honours and revenues of the church; but their expec. tations were totally disappointed, and the face of affairs changed very suddenly with respect to them. For Charles subjected to the government of bishops the churches of Scotland and Ireland, the former of which was peculiarly attached to the ecclesiastical discipline and polity of Geneva; and, in the year 1662, a public law was enacted, by which all who refused to observe the rites, and subscribe the doctrines, of the church of England; were entirely excluded from its communion. From this period, until the reign of king William III. the nonconformists were in a precarious and changing situation, sometimes involved in calamity and trouble, at others enjoying some intervals of tranquillity, and certain gleams of hope, according to the varying spirit of the court and ministry, but never entirely free from perplexities and fears. But, in the year 1689, their affairs took a favourable turn, when a bill for the toleration of all protestant dissenters from the church of England, except the Socinians, passed in parliament almost without opposition, and delivered them from the penal laws to which they had been subjected by the act of uniformity, and other acts passed under the house of Stuart. Nor did the protestant dissenters in England enjoy alone the benefits of this act; for it extended also to the Scots church, which was permitted thereby to follow the eccle-. siastical discipline of Geneva, and was delivered from the jurisdiction of bishops, and from the forms of worship that were annexed to episcopacy. It is from this period that the Nonconformists date the liberty and tranquillity they have long been blessed with, and still enjoy; but it is also observable, that it is to the transactions that were carried on during this period, in favour of religious liberty, that we must chiefly impute the multitude of religious sects and factions, that start up from time to time in that free and happy island, and involve its inhabitants in the perplexities of religious division and controversy.

e See Rapin's “Dissertation on the Whigs and Tories.” Q See an admirable defence of the latitudinarian divines, in a book, entitled “ The Principles and Practices of certain moderate Divines of the church of England, greatly misunderstood, truly represented and defended.". London, 1670, in 8vo. This book was written by Dr. Fowler, afterward bishop of Gloucester. N.

Pf This was the famous Act of Uniformity, in consequence of which the validity of presbyterian ordination was renounced; the ministrations of the foreign churches disowned; the terms of conformity rendered more difficult and raised higher than before the civil wars; and by which, contrary to the manner of proceeding in the times of Elizabeth and Cromwell, who both reserved for the subsistence of each ejected clergyman a fifth part of his benefice, no provision was made for those who should be deprived of their livings. See Wilkins's Concilia Magnæ Britanniæ et Hiberniæ, tom. iv. p. 573. Burnet's History of his own Times, vol. ii. p. 190, &c. Neal's History of the Puritans, tom. iv. p. 358.

g See the whole fourth volume of Neal's History of the Puritans.

XXVI. In the reign of king William, and in the year 1680, the divisions among the friends of episcopacy ran high, and terminated in that famous schism chThe bigla in the church of England, which has never hither. Nonjurora. to been entirely healed. Sancroft, archbishop of Canterbury, and seven of the other bishops, all of whom were eminently distinguished both by their learning and their virtue, looked upon it as unlawful to take the oath of allegiance to the new king, from a mistaken notion that James II. though banished from his dominions, remained nevertheless their rightful sovereign. As these scruples were deeply rooted, and no arguments nor exhortations could engage these prelates to acknowledge the title of William III. to the crown of Great Britain, they were deprived of their ecclesiastical dignities, and their sees were filled by other men of eminent merit. The deposed bishops and clergy

The high church and

h This was called the toleration act, and it may be seen at length in the Appendir, subjoined to the fourth volume of Neal's History of the Puritans. Do It is entitled, “ An Act for exempting their Majesties' Protestant Subjects, dissenting from the Church of England, from the Penalties of certain Laws.” In this bill the corporation and test acts are omitted, and consequently still remain in force. The Socinians are also excepted; but provision is made for Quakers, upon their making a solemn declaration, instead of taking the oaths to the government. This act excuses protestant dissenters from the penalties of the laws therein mentioned, provided they take the oaths to the government, and subscribe the doctrinal articles of the church of England.

i Burnet's History of his own Times, vol. ji. p. 23.

LP i The other nonjuring bishops were, Dr. Lloyd, bishop of Norwich ; Dr. Tur. ner, of Ely; Dr. Kenn, of Bath and Wells ; Dr. Frampton, of Gloucester ; Dr. Thomas, of Worcester ; Dr. Lake, of Chichester ; Dr. White, bishop of Peterborough.

Fii These were Tillotson, Moore, Patrick, Kidder, Fowler, and Cumberland, names

formed a new episcopal church, which differed, in certain points of doctrine, and certain circumstances of public worship, from the established church of England. This new religious community were denominated Nonjurors, on account of their refusing to take the oath of allegiance, and were also called the high church, on account of the high notions they entertained of the dignity and power of the church, and the extent they gave to its prerogatives and jurisdiction. Those, on the other hand, who disapproved of this schism, who distinguished themselves by their charity and moderation toward dissenters, and were less ardent in extending the limits of ecclesiastical authority, were denominated low churchmen. The bishops, who were deprived of their ecclesiastical dignities, and those who embarked in their cause, maintained openly, that the church was independent on the jurisdiction of king and parliament; subject to the authority of God alone, and empowered to govern itself by its own laws; that, of consequence, the sentence pronounced against these prelates by the great council of the nation was destitute both of justice and validity; and that it was only by the decree of an ecclesiastical council that a bishop could be deposed. This high notion of the authority and prerogatives of the church was maintained and propagated, with peculiar zeal, by the famous Henry Dodwell, who led the way in this important cause, and who, by his example and abilities, formed a considerable number of champions' for its defence; hence arose a very nice and intricate controversy, concerning the nature, privileges, and authority of the church, which has not yet been brought to a satisfactory conclusion.

that will be ever pronounced with veneration by such as are capable of esteeming solid, well-employed learning and genuine picty, and that will always shine among the brightest ornaments of the church of England..

k The denomination of high church is given, certainly with great propriety, to the nonjurors, who have very proud notions of church power; but it is commonly used in a more extensive signification, and is applied to all those who, though far from being nonjurors, or otherwise disaffected to the present happy establishment, yet form pompous and ambitious conceptions of the authority and jurisdiction of the church, and would raise it to an absolute independence on all human power. Many such are to be found even among those who go under the general denomination of the low church party.

0 I Dodwell himself was deprived of his professorship of history for refusing to take the oaths of allegiance to king William and queen Mary; and this circumstance, no doubt, augmented the zeal with which he interested himself in the defence of the bishops, who were suspended for the same reason. It was on this occasion that he published his Cautionary discourse of Schism, with a particular regard to the case of the bishops who are suspended for refusing to take the new oath.' This book was

XXVII. The nonjurors or high churchmen, who boast with peculiar ostentation of their orthodoxy, and treat High church the low church as unsound and schismatical, dif- prínciples. fer in several things from the members of the episcopal church, in its present establishment; but they are more particularly distinguished by the following principles; 1. 56 That it is never lawful for the people, under any provocation or pretext whatever, to resist the sovereign." This is called in England passive obedience, and is a doctrine warmly opposed by many, who think it both lawful and necessary, in certain circumstances, and in cases of an urgent and momentous nature, to resist the prince for the happiness of the people. They maintain further, 2. “ That the hereditary succession to the throne is of divine institution, and therefore can never be interrupted, suspended, or annulled, on any pretext. 3. That the church is subject to the jurisdiction, not of the civil magistrate, but of God alone, particularly in matters of a religious nature. 4. That consequently, Sancroft and the other bishops, deposed by king William III. remained, notwithstanding their deposition, true bishops to the day of their death; and that those who were substituted in their places were the unjust possessors of other men's property. 5. That these unjust possessors of ecclesiasticaldignities were rebels against the state, as well as schismatics in the church; and that all therefore who held communion with them were also chargeable with rebellion and schism. 6. That this schism, which rents the church in pieces, is a most heinous sin, whose punishment must fall heavy upon all those who

fully refuted by the learned Dr. Hody, in the year 1691, in a work, entitled 'The unreasonableness of a separation from the new bishops, or a Treatise out of Ecclesiastical History, showing that although a bishop was unjustly deprived, neither he nor the church ever made a separation, if the successor was not a heretic ; translated out of an ancient Greek manuscript,' viz, among the Boroccian MSS. ' in the public library at Oxford.' The learned author translated this work afterward into Latin, and prefixed to it some pieces out of ecclesiastical antiquity, relative to the same subject. Dodwell published in 1692 an answer to it, which he called, 'A vindication of the deprived bishops,' &c. to which Dr. Hody replied in a treatise, entitled 'The Case of the Sees vacant by an unjust or uncanonical Deprivation stated, in reply to the Vindication,' &c. The controversy did not end here ; and it was the hardest thing in the world to reduce Mr. Dodwell to silence. Accordingly he came forth a third time with his stiff and rigid polemics, and published in 1695, his · Defence of the Vindication of the deprived bishops. The preface, which he designed tu prefix to this work, was at first suppressed, but appeared afterward under the following title: "The Doctrine of the Church of England concerning the Independency of the Clergy on the lay power, as to those rights of theirs which are purely spiritual, reconciled with our oath of supremacy and the lay deprivation of the Popish bishops in the beginning of the Reformation. Several other pamphlets were published on the subject of this controversy.

VOL. IV.

15

« הקודםהמשך »