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king's arbitrary ministers to justice; to accomplish which it was thought necessary to set some bounds to the prerogative, and to lessen the power of the bishops; but it never entered into their thoughts to overturn the civil or ecclesiastical constitution, as will appear from the concurrent testimony of the most unexceptionable historians.
“ As to their religion (says the noble historian*), they were all members of the established church, and almost to a man for episcopal government. Though they were undevoted enough to the court, they had all imaginable duty for the king, and affection for the government established by law, or ancient custom; and without doubt the majority of that body were persons of gravity and wisdom, who being possessed of great and plentiful fortunes, had no mind to break the peace of the kingdom, or to make any considerable alterations in the government of the church or state. Dr. Lewis Du Moulin, who lived through these times, says, “that both lords and commons were most, if not all, peaceable, orthodox church of England men, all conforming to the rites and ceremonies of episcopacy, but greatly averse to Popery and tyranny, and to the corrupt part of the church that inclined towards Řome." This is farther evident from their order of November 20, 1640, that none should sit in their house but such as would receive the communion according to the usage of the church of England. The commons, in their grand remonstrance of December 1, 1641, declared to the world, that it was far from their purpose to let loose the golden reins of discipline and government in the church, to leave private persons, or particular congregations, to take up what form of divine service they pleased; for we hold it requisite (say they) that there should be throughout the whole realm a conformity to that order which the law enjoins according to the word of God.” The noble historian adds farther, “ that even after the battle of Edgehill the design against the church was not grown popular in the house ; that in the years 1642 and 1643, the lords and commons were in perfect conformity to the church of England, and so was their army, the general and officers both by sea and land being neither Presbyterians, Independents, Anabaptists, nor conventiclers; and that when they cast their eyes upon Scotland, there were in truth very few in the two houses who desired the extirpation of episcopacy. Nay, his lordship is of opinion, that the nation in general was less inclined to the Puritans than to the Papists; at least, that they were for the establishment, for when the king went to Scotland (1641], the common prayer was much reverenced throughout the kingdom, and was a general object of veneration with the people. There was a full submission and love to the established government of the church and state, especially to that part of the church which concerned the liturgy and Book of Common Prayer;" which, though it be hardly credi
Clarendon, vol. 1. p. 184, &c.
ble, as will appear hereafter by the numbers of petitions from several counties against the hierarchy, yet may serve to silence those of his lordship's admirers, who through ignorance and ill-will have represented the long parliament, and the body of the Puritans at their first sitting down, as in a plot against the whole ecclesiastical establishment.
If we may believe his lordship's character of the leading members of both houses, even of those who were most active in the war against the king, we shall find even they were true churchmen according to law; and that they had no designs against episcopacy, nor any inclinations to presbytery or the separation.
The earl of Essex was captain-general and commander in chief of the parliament army, and so great was his reputation that his very name commanded thousands into their service. It had been impossible for the parliament to have raised an army, in lord Clarendon's opinion, if the earl of Essex had not consented to be their general; and " yet this nobleman (says he*) was not indevoted to the function of bishops, but was as much devoted as any man to the Book of Common Prayer, and obliged all his servants to be present with him at it; his household chaplain being always a conformable man, and a good scholar.”
The earl of Bedford was general of the horse under the earl of Essex, but " he had no desire that there should be any alteration in the government of the church ; he had always lived towards my lord of Canterbury himself, with all respect and reverence; he frequently visited and dined with him, subscribed liberally to the repairing of St. Paul's, and seconded all pious undertakings.”
Lord Kimbolton, afterward earl of Manchester, was a man of great generosity and good breeding; and no man was more in the confidence of the discontented party, or more trusted; he was commander of part of the parliament-forces, and rather complied with the changes of the times than otherwise ; he had a considerable share in the restoration of king Charles II. and was in high favour with him till his death.
The earl of Warwick was admiral of the parliament-fleet; he was the person who seized on the king's ships, and employed them against him during the whole course of the war ; he was looked upon as the greatest patron of the Puritans, and “yet this nobleman (says lord Clarendon) never discovered any aversion to episcopacy, but much professed the contrary.'
In truth, says the noble historian, when the bill was brought into the house to deprive the bishops of their votes in parliament, there were only at that time taken notice of in the house of peers, the lords Say and Brook, as positive enemies to the whole fabric of the church, and to desire a dissolution of the government.
Amongst the leading members in the house of commons, we may reckon William Lenthall, esq. their speaker, “ who was of no ill
Clarendon, vol. 1. p. 182. 185. 189. 211, 212. 233. 507; and vol. 2. p. 211, 212. 214. 462. 597, &c.
reputation for his affection to the government both of church and state,” says his lordship, and declared on his death-bed after the Restoration, that he had always esteemed episcopal government to be the best government of the church, and accordingly died a dutiful son of the church of England.
Mr. Pym had the leading influence in the house of commons, and was in truth the most popular man and most able to do hurt of any who lived in his time ; and yet, lord Clarendon says, “ though he was an enemy to the Arminians, he professed to be very entirely for the doctrine and discipline of the church of England, and was never thought to be for violent measures, till the king came to the house of commons, and attempted to seize him amongst the five members.”
Denzil Hollis, esq. after the Restoration promoted to the dignity of a baron, was at the head of all the parliament's councils till the year 1647. “ He had an indignation (says lord Clarendon) against the Independents, nor was he affected to the Presbyterians, any otherwise than as they constituted a party to oppose the others, but was well pleased with the government of the church."
Sir H. Vane the elder did the king's affairs an unspeakable prejudice, and yet “in his judgment he liked the government both of church and state; nay, he not only appeared highly conformable himself but exceeding sharp against those that were not.'
Sir John Hotham was the gentleman who shut the gates of Hull against the king; and in a sally that he made upon the king's forces shed the first blood that was spilt in the civil war,
and was the first his majesty proclaimed a traitor ; and yet his lordship declares, “ he was very well affected to the government.”
His lordship is a little more dubious about the famous Mr. Hampden, but says, that most people believed “his dislike was rather to some churchmen, than to the ecclesiastical government of the church.”
I might mention Mr. Whitelocke, Selden, Langhorne, and others, who are represented without the least inclination to presbytery ; but it is sufficient to observe from his lordship, “ that all the earl of Essex's party in both houses were men of such principles, that they desired no alteration in the court or government, but only of the persons that acted in it; nay, the chief officers of his army were so zealous for the liturgy, that they would not hear a man as a minister that had not episcopal ordination."
Nathaniel Fiennes, esq. sir H. Vane, jun. and shortly after Mr. Hampden, were believed to be for root and branch ; yet, says his lordship, Mr. Pym was not of that mind, nor Mr. Hollis, nor any of the northern men, nor any of those lawyers who drove on most furiously with them; all of whom were well pleased with the government of the church ; for though it was in the hearts of some few to remove foundations, they had not the courage and confi
ce to communicate it.”
is was the present temper and constitution of both houses; from which his lordship justly concludes, that “as they were all of them, almost to a man, conformists to the church of England, they had all imaginable duty for the king and affection for the government established by law; and as for the church, the major part even of these persons would have been willing to satisfy the king; the rather, because they had no reason to think the two houses, or indeed either of them, could have been induced to pursue the contrary." How injurious then are the characters of those church bistorians, and others, who have represented the members of this parliament, even at their first session, as men of the new religion, or of no religion, fanatics, men deeply engaged in a design against the whole constitution in church and state !
The parliament was opened November 3, with a most gracious speech from the throne, wherein his majesty declares, he would concur with them in satisfying their just grievances, leaving it with them where to begin. Only some offence was taken at styling the Scots, rebels, at a time when there was a pacification subsisting ; upon which his majesty came to the house, and instead of softening his language, very imprudently avowed the expression, saying, he could call them neither better nor worse. The houses petitioned his majesty to appoint a fast for a divine blessing upon their counsels, which was observed November 17; the reverend Mr. Marshal and Mr. Burges preached before the commons; the former on 2 Chron. xv. 2, “The Lord is with you, wbile you are with him ; if
you, but if you forsake him he will forsake you.” The latter on Jer. 1. 5, “ They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten.”. The sermons were long, but delivered with a great deal of caution: the house gave them thanks, and a piece of plate for their labours. The bishops of Durham and Carlisle preached before the lords in the abbey-church of Westminster; the one a courtier, and the other a favourer of the Puritans. The Lord's day following, all the members in a body received the sacrament from the hands of bishop Williams dean of Westminster, not at the rails about the altar, but at a communion-table, placed, by order of the house, in the middle of the church on that occasion.
At their first entrance upon business they appointed four grand committees ; the first to receive petitions about grievances of religion, which was afterward subdivided into twenty or thirty; the second for the affairs of Scotland and Ireland; the third for civil grievances, as ship-money, judges, courts of justice, monopolies, &c.; the fourth concerning Popery, and plots relating thereunto. Among the grievances of religion, one of the first things that came before the house was, the
acts and canons of the late convocation : several warm speeches were made against the compilers of them, November 9; and among others lord Digby, who was as yet with the country party, stood up and said, "Does not every parliament-man's heart rise, to see the prelates usurping to themselves the grand pre-eminence of parliament ? the granting subsidies under the name of a benevolence, under no less a penalty to them that refuse it, than the loss of heaven and earth; of heaven by excommunication, and of earth by deprivation, and this without redemption by appeal ? What good man can think with patience, of such an ensnaring oath, as that which the new canons enjoin to be taken, by ministers, lawyers, physicians, and graduates in the university, where, besides the swearing such an impertinence, as that things necessary to salvation are contained in discipline; besides the swearing those to be of divine right, which among the learned was never pretended to, as the arch things in our hierarchy ; besides the swearing not to consent to the change of that, which the state may, upon great reasons, think fit to alter; besides the bottomless perjury of an et cætera ; besides all this, men must swear that they swear freely and voluntarily, what they are compelled to ; and lastly, that they swear to the oath in the literal sense, whereof no two of the makers themselves, that I have heard of, could erer agree in the understanding."
Sir B. Rudyard, sir J. Culpeper, sir Edward Deering, sir Harbottle Grimstone, spoke with the same warmth and satirical wit, for discharging the canons, dismounting them, and melting them down; nor did any gentleman stand up in their behalf but Mr. Holbourn, who is said to make a speech of two hours in their rindication ; but his arguments made no impression on the house, for at the close of the debate a committee of twelve gentlemen, among whom were Mr. Selden, Maynard, and Coke, was appointed to search for the warrants by which the convocation was held, after the parliament broke up, and for the letters pateat of the benevolence, and for such other materials as might assist the house in their next debate upon this argument, wbieh wis appointed for December 14, when sobre of the members would have aggravated the crime of the coa vocation to high treases, but serjeant Maynard and Mr. Bagshaw moderated their resentments,