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imputation? They very prudently DID NOT suffer the plot to succeed : and then their mode of casting the blame on the Puritans, was to bring to trial and to execute all the Catholics concerned. An annual thanksgiving for deliverance (from the Puritans, of course), was appointed to be celebrated; while an act of parliament compelled all persons to attend the church, under the penalty of twelvepence for each offence.
In fact, the King inclined, though in a slight degree, towards the Papists and Puritans by turns; deeming it politic to play off the one against the encroachments of the other. In the mean time the Puritans were continually calling out, “Popish plots ;" which perhaps did not even exist in their own imagination ; and while establishing themselves in parliament, they presented so formidable a phalanx, that James was compelled to court them on nearly all important measures. Nothing indeed could more clearly evince his judgment than this cautious vigilance and temperate indulgence manifested towards all parties. He could not forget that men, capable of hatching so diabolical a scheme as the gunpowder plot, were not habitual villains, but principled bigots, and in all other respects unexceptionable characters; that they had sealed their mutual faith by a participation of the Eucharist ; that when a doubt was started relative to the impropriety of destroying friends to
gether with foes*, the Jesuit Garnet had asserted the lawfulness of the measure; that the populace believed miracles to be wrought by the body of this wretch, and that in Spain he was regarded as a martyr. Though these facts might justly warrant, it must be owned, both severity and suspi, cion on the part of government, yet, since they were chargeable only on a small, and the least honourable part of the Catholic body, the speech of James, discriminating the deserving from the dangerous, was wise, politic, generous, and humane.
XI. 1606. On the discovery of this plot, the oath of allegiance was framed; being a vow of submission to the King as a temporal sovereign, independent on any other power upon earth: ano. ther proof that the blame was cast upon the Puri, tans! This instrument differs from the path of supremacy; which asserts the King to be head of the church, as well as of the state. It was, there fore, a liberal and merciful act towards the Ca, tholic body; and has been praised by Mr. Hume for its moderation, in deciding no controverted points betwixt the two religions. Blackwell, the Popish archpresbyter, and most English Catholics, in fact, cordially acquiesced, in defiance of the
* In the Gospel, says Fuller, the tares were suffered to grow for the sake of the corn; but here the corn is plucked up on account of the tares.
REIGN OF JAMES I. 81 Pope's prohibition, and of Bellarmine's sophistical reasoning *.
On the conduct of James, with reference to the religious parties, various comments have been delivered by different historians, each dictated by the prejudices of the writer. By some his gentle treatment of his Catholic subjects has been attributed to moderation and magnanimity; while others will give him credit for no nobler motive than his dread of the future designs of that body. In a sober and unbiassed estimate of his character, it will perhaps appear that both of these censures are overcharged, and that James was a man of sound orthodoxy and plain sense, actuated by a prudent anxiety to hold a middle course betwixt extremes, in which he discerned evils equally formidable ; his seat on the throne being rendered insecure by the doctrines connected with a belief in the papal supremacy, and the throne itself not less unstalle, by the antimonarchical principles of many Puritans. His general character as a theologian, moreover, and his sensible inquisitiveness at the conference of Hampton Court, evince that he was
*. Blackwell was some time afterwards deposed by the Pope, for having taken this oath of a loyal and good subject. Bellarmine wrote under a feigned name, and was answered by James in a laboured treatise. See Collier's Records, p. 105 - Bellarmine's Letter against the Oath of Allegiance, 1607 and Pope Paul's Brief to the English Roman Catholics, fore bidding them to take the oath of allegiance.
by no means indifferent as to the opinions in di vinity maintained by the opposite parties ; that he regarded them with equal jealousy, though less in a religious than in a political point of view; and that, far from entertaining any bigoted antipathy to either, he approached the one and the other in the truths which they professed, and stood aloof from their respective errors..., : With what justice Bishop Burnet affirms, thať to the end of his reign he continued speaking and writing against Popery, and acting in favour of it, neither appears from facts, nor from any inférence of reason. If he had been really influ'enced by dread of assassination from the Catholics, agreeably to the allegation of that historian, would not the same apprehension which restrained his conduct, have imposed a check upon his words and writings? Would a friend of Catholics, and an enemy of war, have ruined his private finances in supporting his protestant son-in-law? Would "he have consented to a rupture with Spain ? Would
he have exhorted his son, amidst the seriousness i and sincerity of his deathbed, to be constant in his religion, and to protect the church of Eng. land? But James, observing a middle course, had few friends in an age of violence.. All his sober measures, for the support of the hierarchy, were construed by the Scottish Presbyterians and English Puritans, as testifying an inclina
tion to Popery. Let candour wipe away the áspersion *. ; iuris
XII. 1610. The Commons, in the parliament of 1810, attacked the ecclesiastical branch of the royal prerogative, by complaining of the High Commission Court and the oath ex officio; and censuired the spiritual courts for depriving such of the clergy as had refused to extend their subscription beyond the strict requisition of the statute. But James, on hearing the report of these discontents, summoned the Lords and Commons to attend him at Whitehall; where, to an introduce tory flourish on the divine right of kings, he added, that he was ever willing to assign'a reason for his conduct, and to govern according to law.
Neither satisfied with this promise, however, for dismayed by the antecedent doctrine of absolute authority, the Commons presented to the Sovereign a remonstrance, asserting their right of debate concerning the prerogative of his Majesty
* Bancroft, about this time, made another attempt to transfer prohibitions from the King's court to his Majesty's own, hands, but the scheme having been strenuously opposed by the judges, the King, how anxious soever for its exécue tion, was afraid to proceed. Probibitions were writs: issued by the temporal, to stop the proceedings of the spiritual courts, on the suggestion of an interference with their province. Before the Reformation they were eminently useful, in resisting the tyranny of the Popes; but afterwards became vexatious and expensive, to the clergy by being granted on frivolous grounds...vists's ? 16.06 aytar 180