Sivut kuvina

by degrees they directed their proposals against every thing that existed. They endeavoured to gain the people by holding out apparent advantages; promised wonders from their church discipline; and by their assemblies and consistories, excited immoderate hopes of general, undivided sway, which must equally endanger the freedom of individuals and the tranquillity of the state. Yet more rigorous measures were not adopted against them, till they set up as a principle, that the assent of the magistrates was not necessary to their plans and arrangements; till they bound themselves together by signatures, endeavoured to overturn the established church, raised doubts whether oaths prescribed by the laws ought to be taken, and affirmed that their cause would triumph, if not by amicable means, yet by force. () However right all this is upon the whole, the church in times of its preponderance and of increased zeal, by no means kept within the limits here laid down. On the 17th of September, 1559, Matthew Parker was installed Archbishop of Canterbury; he was a mild-tempered, affable, and learned man; he published Matthew Paris and the Four Gospels, in the ancient Saxon tongue; but he was severe, nay, harsh towards nonconformists, or such as did not entirely agree with the church. The Baptists were driven out of the country, ordinances issued against image-breakers, and the clergy enjoined implicitly to obey their ecclesiastical superiors, and to observe all the orders of the royal privy council. When many Puritans, (though opposed by the more prudent,) notwithstanding, made great complaints of the dress of the clergy, the form of the consecrated wafers, &c., committed many improprieties, and at length entirely laid aside the English Liturgy, it was deemed necessary to issue more positive directions against them, and to remove many clergymen from their posts. Archbishop Grindal, the successor of Parker, (from 1575 to 1583,) was more mildly disposed than his predecessor. But Elizabeth was of opinion that the unauthorised assemblies of the Puritans, their arbitrary interpretation of the Scriptures, and the preaching of ignorant persons, led to disorders and divisions; that it was better if only a few able men preached in regular assemblies, or if Homilies were prescribed to be read by those of inferior capacity. Grindal, on the other hand, alleged, that if eminent preachers were not to be had, they must be content with moderate ones, whose words might still be of use in those assemblies which were so much blamed. That Elizabeth would do well to hear the opinion of competent judges, and not to carry her power in the affairs of the church too far. Not satisfied with these objections, and vexed at the Archbishop's resistance, the Queen several times gave

directions immediately to the Bishops, and would perhaps have deprived Grindal of his office, but he died in the year 1583, and was succeeded by Whitgift, who was himself of a more austere temper, and was directed by the Queen, probably at his own suggestion, to require from all the clergy the oath of supremacy, as well as the use of the Book of Common Prayer and the Thirty-nine Articles. This, say his defenders, “was absolutely necessary for the preservation of order, under a common church.” They also say in his praise, “that he was liberal, charitable, industrious, a friend of learning, and that he energetically opposed inroads into the property of the church by the temporal power.” But the nonconformists soon complained that a number of captious questions were submitted to them, that written communications of the points complained of, or answers, were refused; that old, unknown, or canonical laws were regarded, and oaths required respecting things contrary to the usual course of justice, which involved accusations in them; that those who would not take the oath were fined or imprisoned, or deposed, nay, that some had even been put in the pillory, or had their ears cut off. These complaints induced the Privy Council, in which were Leicester, Burghley, Hatton, and Walsingham, to exhort the Archbishop to use mild measures, and not to expel useful preachers on

account of some doubts respecting external ceremonies. Whitgift answered, that the circumstances had not been correctly related to them, for that he had only removed a very small number of turbulent and wholly inefficient persons. These and other arguments did not, however, convince Burghley; for in a letter of the 15th of July, 1584, he says: “The mode of proceeding was rather to find out violators of the laws, than to better them, and resembled the Spanish Inquisition.” At another time he wrote to the Queen, “I am bold enough to affirm that the Bishops in these dangerous times take a bad and injudicious way in expelling the Puritans from their places, for though the latter are cavilling in their opinions, and irritable, and too anxious, yet, by their careful catechising and diligent preaching, they effect what your Majesty wishes, the diminution of the Catholics.” It is certain that the efforts of this great man and his friends would have been productive of greater advantage, had the Puritans seconded them by their conduct. For when Burghley caused one division of them (classis) to lay before him a plan for a Liturgy, the second division made innumerable objections, and a third presented a wholly different plan. Walsingham, who was still more inclined to them than Burghley, offered, in the name of the Queen, the omission of the three points in the Liturgy which were offensive to them, namely, the use of the sign of the cross in baptism, kneeling at the altar, and wearing the surplice. They replied that the whole Liturgy ought to be abolished, and not the smallest portion of it remain. It is evident that while they were thus disposed, no middle way of agreement with the Church could be found; nay, it is a matter of surprise that the Puritans agreed among themselves on certain forms of Divine worship, and a constitution of the Church, by which several congregations constituted a class, and the classes were to be under the general Assembly.() Wehement, nay, abusive attacks upon the Bishops caused a strict prohibition to publish writings of a theological nature, without the permission of the ecclesiastical authorities, and though the more reasonable portion disapproved of such offensive expressions, yet Hacket, and similar enthusiasts, sprang up among the Puritans, who, with boundless arrogance, considered themselves as called upon to re-model the State and Church in all their parts, and proclaimed the most absurd and the most reprobate doctrines as inspired by God. Against this criminal insanity the greatest rigour was justifiable, whereas the execution of some Brownists and Anabaptists (one of the latter was burnt for denying the divinity of Christ,) is not to be excused, though the doctrine of the latter was often connected with criminal actions. Unhappily the best remedies against abuses were unavailing;

« EdellinenJatka »