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On the restoration of Charles II, to the throne of his ancestors, from which he had been so long and so unjustly kept; the state of parties was completely changed. The Church of England recovered its privileges, and regained its power and influence; but not alas ! in the spirit of the Reformation.
Unhappily the severities which churchmen had endured, enkindled feelings of distrust and enmity; and great severities were in turn exercised against the Non-conformists. Reasonable concessions were refused, and however we may discern a moral retribution on the part of God towards some of those who suffered ; we can never justify the conduct of those who inflicted the punishment. Lord Clarendon attempts to defend it by two alleged instances of want of ingenuity and integrity ; but Bishop Heber justly remarks, "The duplicity or bigotry of a few leading individuals can be no good argument against using all just and reasonable means to conciliate a numerous and powerful party, the majority of whoin must be like other men, to be subdued by kindness, and satisfied when their complaints are attended to.' 1
The sad Bartholomew-day in 1662, saw, it is said, 2000 ministers cast out of the Church of England ; most of whom might probably have been retained in
1 See Life of Taylor, p. 243.
its sanctuary by a conciliatory spirit. We fully admit, that it gave evidence of the power and reality of religious principle in those, who for conscience sake, gave up their means of livelihood; and of the little advance that the spirit of peace and toleration had yet made in the minds of those who, for the lesser things of religion, could make such a cruel sacrifice. But both sides must be looked at, Sir M. Hale said, those of the separation were good men, but they had narrow souls, or they would not break the peace of the church for such inconsiderable matters as the points in difference were.' Had not scrupulosity as well as tenderness of conscience considerable influence with the non-conformists in this sad matter ? —Was there not want of forbearance on one side, as well as intolerance on the other ? Yet there was no adequate excuse for the high ruling party. Was not theirs the real spirit of the world, and the enmity of the heart against the gospel ? When apprehension was expressed that the terms of conformity were so hard that many would not comply, Archbishop Sheldon replied, he was afraid they would ;' and when another said, it is pity the door is so 'strait'-—-he answered, it is no pity at all, if we would have thought so many of them would have conformed we would have made it straiter ! »Pueber
It is observable, that many of the Non-conformists seemed to get over, or at least not to stumble at what are now considered the main difficulties, while they were burdened by things which are now little felt: such as the use of a surplice, or a form of prayer, which some would have laid down their lives to have had removed.1 Surely the weak conscience might, with
1 See Mather's Magnalia, Book iii. 113.
singleness and simplicity before God, bear sheh things, rather than throw the minister out of an important sphere of usefulness, in his Master's service. Baxter himself, after fully stating the faults of this ruling party, speaks with much piety and candour of the faults of the suffering party. 1
It was, however, a painful state of things, when, in a Christian country, the highest acts of religion, social prayer, and praise, and Christian instruction, were treated as worse crimes than open violations of the plain law of God; and to be religious, was almost considered as synonymous with rebellion.
In the wonderful providence of God, however, the good men who were prevented the exercise of their ministry, improved the leisure to the production of valuable, practical, and devotional Treatises, which have been preserved as the food of the spiritual church in subsequent ages, by the Divines, whom we have noticed in the preceding Section. It shows that a good man can be thrown into no situation in which he may not be a blessing.
We shall have to notice a very serious decline in the religious character of the writings of this æra. There were some illustrious exceptions, and the Christian eye dwells with delight on such Bishops as Leighton, Reynolds, Hopkins, and Beveridge in the established Church, as well as on many other names that might be mentioned in other communions.
We now proceed to the character of Writers of the Established Church at the Restoration, and Revolution, and succeeding period. The History of Divinity,
1 See his works, Vol. xiv. p. 149, 150.
in the century from the Restoration, to the middle of the 18th century, is by no means cheering to the Christian eye, though it furnishes many a safeguard, and much valuable instruction. Let us trace it in its progress. And here the author, feeling the extreme delicacy and difficulty of pronouncing an opinion on men of great learning and piety, and his own inability to give a judgment, will rather use the statements of others than speak in his own words : it will be necessary to retrace some of the ways
which we had previously gone.
Bishop Hall, who was at the Synod of Dort in 1618, says, • After not many years, settling at home, it grieved my soul to see our own Church begin to sicken of the same disease which we had endeavoured to cure in our neighbours. Mr. Montague's tart and vehe. ment assertions of some positions near of kin to the Remonstrants of Netherland, gave occasion of raising no small broil in the church. Sides were taken ; pulpits every where rang of these opinions, but parliaments took notice of the division, and questioned the occasioner. Now, as one that desired to do all good offices to our dear and common mother, I set my thoughts on work, how, so dangerous a quarrel might be happily composed, and finding that mistaking was more guilty of this dissention, than misbelieving; (since it plainly appeared to me, that Mr. Montague meant to express, not Arminius, but B. Overall, a moderate and safe author ; however he sped in delivery of him ;) I wrote a little project of pacification, wherein I desired to rectify the judgment of men, concerning this misapprehended controversy ; showing the true party in this unseasonable plea
I gathered (out of each side) such common
propositions concerning these five busy Articles, as wherein both of them are fully agreed. All which being put together, seemed unto, me to make up so sufficient a body of accorded truth, that all other questions maved hereabouts appeared merely superfluous, and every moderate Christian might find where to rest himself without hazard or contradiction.!
But controversial writings multiplied, and Arminian views spread among Churchmen. The political struggles which followed were exceedingly prejudicial to real religion. As we have before observed, the principal Divines, and some of the most holy writers, on the truths of religion, became mingled with the politics of the day.
The hypocrisy of many, and the extreme views of others who made a profession of religion; their violence, their extravagances, their ambition; and the dead formality and bad taste of others, gave occasion for all sorts of jokes; religion became the laughing stock of the wits, and hateful to multitudes. Religion triumphs by patient sufferings; but unsanctified elevation, selfconceit, hypocrisies, ambition and domination, and lording it over others, ever impede it progress.
It was under these circumstances that the Church of England was situated in the days of Charles II, It was too evident, that the great effusion of the blessed Spirit, which had produced the pure and spiritual churches of the Reformation began to fail, and worldliness, and indifference, and spiritual death succeeded. The infidelity and profligacy of the court of the reigning monarch accelerated the course of irreligion through the country.
We shall better from a judgment, however, of the class of Divines that succeeded by considering the