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VI. James opened his first parliament with an harangue of great sense and merit: in which he stated that he found three religions within his realm ; that by law established; the Catholic, or more properly the Popish ; and, lastly, that of the Puritans, a sect lurking within the bowels of the church. He confessed the Catholic to be the mother church, though tainted with various blemishes and corruptions ;-he wished to abolish all rigorous statutes in force against its members ; and professed his willingness to meet them half way in any plausible scheme for re-union.
With these sentiments all parties were alike dissatisfied. Bare toleration contented not the Catholics : the Puritans deemed themselves ca. lumniated and insulted; while the members of the church in general expressed their disgust af the proposed concessions to the Papists, and at the idle plan for a midway conciliation. The parliament, chiefly consisting, in the lower house, of Puritans, petitioned James for a relaxation of ecclesiastical laws; and being suspicious of him, they passed a bill, disabling the crown, or courtiers through the medium of the crown (a shift which the statute of Elizabeth had left them), from receiving conveyances of land belonging to the bishoprics. To this, James readily assented : glad, perhaps, to silence the importunity with which his courtiers solicited, and to impose a check on
that facility with which he was himself too much disposed to grant, favours injurious to the church*.
VII. In the convocation of the same year, a book of one hundred and forty-one canons, collected out of the articles, injunctions, and synodical acts, published in the reigns of Edward VI. and Elizabeth, passed both chambers, after some debate. It contained all the canons now in force, together with several others, since expunged by an act of parliament for granting indulgence to dissenters. Neale inveighs against them as bearing hard against the Puritans; but those which he produces only evince the claim of the church (the reasonable claim of any society whatever) to excommunicate or deprive of its privileges such persons as refuse conformity to its regulationst.
VIII. Bancroft, on his accession to the metro, politan chair, rigorously urged conformity to the rubric, and to the canons recently established. About the same time the judges, whom the King had consulted, determined, that it was lawful for the high commissioners to deprive Puritan ministers, for non-conformity to the ceremonies which
* Provision was also made by the legislature, for the rigorous prosecution of recusants; the act of Mary against the marriage of the clergy was repealed; and all processes, citations, and judgments in the spiritual court, were directed to be issued in the King's name, and to bear his seal. 't It has been several times determined in Westminster Hall, that these canons bind only the clergy, the laity not being represented in convocation.
THE REIGN OF JAMES 1. [17th Cent. these canons had prescribed. Encouraged by tliis decision, the Primate prepared for assailing the obnoxious irregulars with fresh violence. He found not the London clergy, however, disposed to second his design : for, having been summoned to Lambeth, that they might repeat their subscription to the three articles of Whitgift, agreeably to the letter of the thirty-sixth canon, " that they subscribed willingly and from the heart,"-many withdrew themselves, and others refused their signatures. The court, who had hitherto believed the number of non-conformists to be trifling, were now alarmed at the prospect of a scarcity of preachers for the churches : and till a succession of conforming clergy could be obtained from the universities, it was deemed expedient for the present to relax the severity of the exaction in regard to the cross and surplice. The bishops were instructed, in a pastoral letter from the Primate, to grant a delay to the subscription of persons already fixed in churches; yet on no account to admit any one, without subscription, to the discharge of ecclesiastical functions. Some among the Puritan clergy made a verbal promise of conformity, though they declined repeating their subscription : and to such it was that time was now afforded for deliberation. Others positively refused both subscription and conformity; and directions were issued, that these, if lecturers, should be silenced; if beneficed persons, deprived. Much has been
REIGN OF JAMES 1. 77 spoken concerning the severities inflicted in pursuance of these instructions ; although, in fact, the number of deprived ministers amounted to no more than thirty-nine. Alarmed, however, by such examples, many of the non-conformists made an attempt to expatriate themselves, and to seek, on transatlantic shores, an undisturbed exercise of their religion. In an evil hour the Archbishop obtained from James a proclamation, throwing difficulties in the way of this colonizing spirit: a most impolitic measure, as appeared in the sequel; for the river, hindered in this manner from disemboguing itself, swelled not long afterwards above its banks, and poured over the country in a deluge of devastation.
IX. A.D. 1605. While the Puritans sustained this unexpected disappointment, James manifested no greater tenderness of indulgence towards the adherents of the old religion. In his first parliament he had avowed his determination to banish all such persons as maintained the papal supremacy. The Roman Catholics perceived, that, by means of this threatened expulsion, their numbers would be materially weakened ; nor were they disposed, as a body, to rest satisfied with the offer of toleratìon, accepted by their more conforming members. Under these circumstances they hatched a diabolical scheme for the destruction of the sovereign and nobility. Of this it were frivolous to introduce the details : gunpowder plot, discovered
A. D. 1605, being familiar to all readers of the civil history of England. James, in addressing his parliament, assembled a few days subsequently to the failure of this infernal machination, carefully and candidly exculpated the more moderate Roman Catholics ; adding, that such Papists alone could be concerned in it, as acknowledged the Pope's authority to depose and murder princes. “ We therefore,” said he, “ confess, that many Papists, especially our forefathers, laying their only trust upon Christ and his merits, may be saved : detesting, in that point, the cruelty of the Puritans, and thinking it worthy of fire, who will allow no salvation to any Papists.".
X. That ever-liberal and impartial historian, Mr. Neale, declares, that “whether this plot had succeeded or failed, it was intended to throw blame on the Puritans.” A fine supposition ! and immediately after affirming, too, that the design had been long known to the court. By whom was this intended ? Not surely by the Papists : for, either in the failure or success of the plot, the result would have discovered THEMSELVES alone as the agents. Still less could the King and courtiers harbour such an intention. If the plot had sucs. ceeded, who does not see, that they would not have been in a condition to throw the blame upon any party ? and how, moreover, does their con, duct, under the actual issue, tally with Mr. Neale's