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CHAPTER XII.

THE COMMONWEALTH..

Contents. I. The Engagement.-II. Commissioners to examine Çan

didates for the Ministry: Penal Statutes gbolished.-$ III. : Acts against Licentiousness. IV. Conciliatory

Measures of the Government towards the Presbyteriani and ejected Clergy. V. Restrictions on the Press and Pulpit. VI. Barebones' Parliament: Cromwell Protector.--VII. Enlarged Toleration.-VIII. Independents favoured : Tryers of Candidates for Orders.-IX. Lay Commissioners.--X. Encouragement of Episcopalians.--XI. Amicable Associutions among the different religious Parties: and Plan of Toleration.XII. The Parliament seem friendly to Republicanism.—XIII. Death and Character of Cromwell. XIV. Acts or Ordinances.--XV. Learned Divines.-XVI. Miscellaneous Matters: Roman Catholics: Baptists : Independents; their Confession: Presbyterians: Death of Love. -XVII. Levellers.—XVIII. Fifth Monarchy Men.

XIX. Millenarians.-XX. Joanna Southcott: Carpenter.-XXI. Antinomians : History and Refutation of Antinomianism: Crisp, Saltmarsh, Cudworth, and Kelly.-XXII. Huntingtonians.-XXIII. Muggletonians.--XXIV. Quakers.--XXV. Statement and Refutation of their Tenets.-XXVI. Quaker-Method. ists.

neous Mat. Confessio11 Vill. man Southe

1. The English constitution was now wholly dissolved. An apology for a House of Commons, consisting of about eighty members, all Independents, voted the House of Lords to be useless, and the office of a King dangerous to the state. Ta secure obedience to this decree, a new oath, denominated the engagement, was prepared : by which the jurors bound themselves to be faithful to the government established, excluding Lords and Monarch. This instrument was designed chiefly as an ordeal for the Presbyterians, who, as a body, concurred with the Scots, and pronounced the existing powers usurpers.

II. But since it was expedient to conciliate as well as bind to the new government, the multifarious sects which had sprung up in this period of confusion ; an act, passed at the request of Fairfax and Cromwell, removed the whole body of penal statutes connected with religion, and established on their downfal a general toleration, from which Papists and Episcopalians were alone excepted, Another ordinance appointed commissioners for each county, who should judge concerning the qualifications of such candidates for the ministry, as could not comply with the forms of ordination before established. .

III. In several ordinances, professedly intended to check the prevailing licentiousness, it is curious to observe in how marked a manner the scandalous vices are singled out, in a canting age, for animadversion and punishment. While adul:

tery, incest, fornication, swearing, sabbath-break. ing, and blasphemy, are all subjected to the severo vengeance of the law, no notice whatever is taken of dishonesty or deceit *. In the general dissoluteness and impiety which demanded this partial check, we may perceive the fatal consequence of the wildness of fanatical sects. Men of understanding, whose principles are not strongly. confirmed, or whose moral behaviour is inclined to lukewarmness and laxity, finding no rational or persuasive religion to embrace, relapse insensibly into infidels and brutes p.

IV. Though strong measures were resorted to in enforcing the new formulary of allegiance ; though Milton, being appointed to defend the kingless government *, rallied the dissatisfied

* Neale, vol. ii. p. 382.

+ The people, weary of war, and anxious for tranquillity, in general submitted patiently to the engagement : but many of the Presbyterian clergy resigned their preferments, in conscientious attachment to the old Scottish covenant, and thus left vacancies to be supplied by dissenting ministers. This change, indeed, did not materially signify, for they were all Calvinists together. At Chester, the engagement was condemned to the lowest pit of hell. Baxter, who, with other Presbyterian ministers, inveighed against the engagement, and extolled the covenant, relates, that the former was accepted by all sectaries and cavaliers. Life, p. 64, 65. It is well known, however, that the cavaliers of Lancashire and Cheshire published a string of reasons for refusing it. These men were not paltry time-servers; and Mr. Baxter, who would exhibit them as such, was certainly not well acquainted with this matter.

* Whitlock, p. 387.

preachers with all the wit of his satirical pen ; though recusants of the engagement, above eighteen years of age, were prohibited from suing in any court of law; and ministers assailing the government from the pulpit were sequestereď from their benefices; yet while menace and infliction were thus held out in the one hand, concession and conciliation were tendered with the other. An Independent government directed that the national church should be Presbyterian in doctrine, discipline, and worship. The lands of bishops, deans, and chapters, which had been in sequestra. tion since 1646, were sold ; while to the sum obtained in return were added the first fruits and tenths of ecclesiastical preferments, formerly payable to the crown ; and this consolidated fund was applied to the purpose of raising poor livings to the value of one hundred pounds a-year f. "Part of these resources was, however, expended in salaries for the ex-bishops, and for other displaced cathedral ecclesiastics. Generous mutineers, who on turning adrift your officers, in an open boat, upon the stormy sea pf life, flung them forth a few biscuits and a keg of water, that you might

flatter yourselves with a notion of your own un· bounded humanity! : V. These regulations, however, were found in

+ Stobel, p. 111.

sufficient to pacify either the Royalist or Presbyterian party, who continued to launch forth from the pulpit and the press, their invectives against those who had outwitted and overpowered them. These two engines of discontent were accordingly subjected to restrictions; the press being laid entirely under the inspection and control of Parliament; and the monthly fast being abolished, which indeed had ever been only a meeting for debate and uncharitable aspersion.

VI. 1651. The coronation of Charles II. in Scotland (though under restrictions, which, it is probable, he never intended to observe, but which his northern subjects were most justly punished . for their infamous intolerance in imposing); the

epistolary controversy betwixt Cromwell and the Scottish divines, the victory gained by this extraordinary character at Worcester, which he considered as his crowning mercy, and the consequent flight of the sovereign into France, are events which we must rest satisfied with thus briefly noticing *. .

1653. Jealous of the power of Cromwell, the Rump Parliament had it in contemplation to dis• " I remember," says Bishop Burnet, p. 53, “ there were six sermons preached to the King, in one fast-day, without intermission. He was not allowed to walk abroad on Supdays, and received a reproof after dancing or cards had been, at any time, allowed at court; all which (and no wonder !) did not a little contribute to beget in him an aversion to strictness in yeligion,"

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