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THE REFORMATION IN 1517, TO THE REVOLUTION IN 1688;
An Account of their Principles ;
THEIR ATTEMPTS FOR A FARTHER REFORMATION IN THE CHURCH, THEIR SUFFERINGS,
AND THE LIVES AND CHARACTERS OF THEIR MOST CONSIDERABI.E DIVINES,
A NEW EDITION, IN THREE VOLUMES.
THE TEXT OF DR. TOULMIN'S EDITION ;
WITH HIS LIFE OF THE AUTHOR AND ACCOUNT OF HIS WRITINGS.
REVISED, CORRECTED, AND ENLARGED.
ALSO J. AND $, A. TEGG, SYDNEY AND HOBART Town.
The design of the following work is to preserve the memory of those great and good men among the reformers, who lost their preferments in the church, for attempting a farther reformation of its discipline and ceremonies ; and to account for the rise and progress of that separation from the national establishment which subsists to this day.
To set this in a proper light it was necessary to look back upon the sad state of religion before the Reformation, and to consider the motives that induced king Henry VIII. to break with the pope, and to declare the church of England an independent body, of which himself, under Christ, was the supreme head upon earth. This was a bold attempt, at a time when all the powers of the earth were against him; and could not have succeeded without an overruling direction of Divine Providence. But as for any real amendment of the doctrines or superstitions of Popery, any farther than was necessary to secure his own supremacy, and those vast revenues of the church which he had grasped into his hands, whatever his majesty might design, he had not the honour to accomplish.
The Reformation made a quick progress in the short reign of king Edward VI., who had been educated under Protestant tutors, and was himself & prodigious genius for his age ; he settled the doctrines of the church, and intended a reformation of its government and laws; but his noble designs were obstructed by some temporising bishops, who, having complied with the impositions of king Henry VIII. were willing to bring others under the same yoke; and to keep up an alliance with the church of Rome, lest they should lose the uninterrupted succession of their characters from the apostles. The controversy that gave rise to the Separation began in this reign, on occasion of bishop Hooper's refusing to be consecrated in the Popish habits. This may seem an unreasonable scruple in the opinion of some people, but was certainly an affair of great consequence to the Reformation, when the habits were the known badges of Popery ; and when the administrations of the priests were thought to receive their validity from the consecrated vestments, as I am afraid many, both of the clergy and common people, are too inclinable to apprehend at this day. Had the reformers fixed upon other decent garments, as badges of the episcopal or priestly office, which had no relation to the superstitions of Popery, this controversy had been prevented. But the same regard to the old religion was had in revising the liturgy, and
translating it into the Eriglish language ; the reformers, instead of framing a new one in the language of Holy Scripture, had recourse to the offices of the church of Rome, leaving out such prayers and passages as were offensive, and adding certain responses to engage the attention of the common people, who till this time had no concern in the public devotions of the church, as being uttered in an unknown tongue. This was thought a very considerable advance, and as much as the times would bear, but was not designed for the last standard of the English reformation; however, the immature death of young king Edward put an end to all further progress.
Upon the accession of queen Mary, Popery revived by the supremacy's being lodged in a single hand; and within the compass of little more than a year, became a second time the established religion of the church of England: the statutes of king Edward were repealed, and the penal laws against heretics were put in execution against the reformers; many of whom, after a long imprisonment, and cruel trials of mockings and scourgings, made a noble confession of their faith before many witnesses, and sealed it with their blood. Great numbers fled into banishment, and were entertained by the reformed states of Germany, Switzerland, and Geneva, with great humanity; the magistrates enfranchising them, and appointing churches for their public worship. But here began the fatal division * ; some of the exiles were for keeping to the liturgy of king Edward, as the religion of their country, while others, considering that those laws were repealed, apprehended themselves at full liberty; and having no prospect of returning home, they resolved to shake off the remains of antichrist, and to copy after the purer forms of those churches among whom they lived. Accordingly the congregation at Frankfort, by the desire of the magistrates, began upon the Geneva model, with an additional prayer for the afflicted state of the church of England at that time; but when Dr. Cox, afterward bishop of Ely, came with a new detachment from England, he interrupted the public service by answering aloud after the minister, which occasioned such a disturbance and division as could never be healed. Mr. Knox and Mr. Whittingham, with one half of the congregation, being obliged to remove to Geneva, Dr. Cox and his friends kept possession of the church at Frankfort, till there arose such quarrels and contentions among themselves, as made them a reproach to the strangers among whom they lived. Thus the separation began.
When the exiles, upon the accession of queen Elizabeth, returned to England, each party were for advancing the Reformation according to their own standard. The queen, with those that had weathered the storm, at home, were only for restoring king Edward's liturgy, but the majority of the exiles were for the worship and discipline of the foreign churches, and refused to comply with the old establishment, declaiming loudly against the Popish habits and ceremonies. The new bishops, most of whom had been their companions abroad, endeavoured to soften them for the present, declaring they would use all their interests at court to make them easy in a little time. The queen also connived at their nonconformity, till her government was settled, but then declared roundly, that she had fixed her standard, and would have all her subjects conform to it; upon which the bishops stiffened in their behaviour, explained away their promises, and became too severe against their dissenting brethren.
* Fatal division ; i. e. on account of the animosities it created and the miseries in which it involved very many persons and families; but in another view, it was a happy division, for it hath been essentially serviceable to civil as well as religious liberty, and like other evils, been productive of many important good effecte; as the author himself points out, p. vi.-Ed.
In the year 1564, their lordships began to shew their authority, by urging the clergy of their several diocesses to subscribe the liturgy, ceremonies, and discipline, of the church ; when those that refused were first called Puritans, a name of reproach derived from the Cathari, or Puritani, of the third century after Christ, but proper enough to express their desires of a more pure form of worship and discipline in the church. When the doctrines of Arminius took place in the latter end of the reign of James I. those that adhered to Calvin's explication of the five disputed points were called Doctrinal Puritans; and at length, says Mr. Fuller *, the name was improved to stigmatise all those who endeavoured in their devotions to accompany the minister with a pure heart, and who were remarkably holy in their conversations. A Puritan therefore was a man of severe morals, a Calvinist in doctrine, and a Nonconformist to the ceremonies and discipline of the church, though they did not totally separate from it.
The queen, having conceived a strong aversion to these people, pointed all her artillery against them ; for besides the ordinary courts of the bishops, her majesty erected a new tribunal, called the court of High Commission, which suspended and deprived men of their livings, not by the verdict of twelve men upon oath, but by the sovereign determination of three commissioners of her majesty's own nomination, founded not upon the statute laws of the realm, but upon the bottomless deep of the canon law; and instead of producing witnesses in open court to prove the charge, they assumed a power of administering an oath ex officio, whereby the prisoner was obliged to answer all questions the court should put him, though never so prejudicial to his own defence : if he refused to swear, he was imprisoned for contempt; and if he took the oath, he was convicted upon his own confession.
The reader will meet with many examples of the high proceedings of this court, in the course of this history'; of their sending their pursuivants to bring ministers out of the country, and keeping them in town at excessive charges; of their interrogatories upon oath, which were almost equal to the Spanish inquisition; of their examinations and long imprisonments of ministers without bail, or bringing them to a trial; and all this not for insufficiency, or immorality, or neglect of their cures, but for not wearing a white surplice, for not baptizing with the sign of the cross, or not subscribing to certain articles that had no foundation in law. A fourth part of all the preachers in England were under suspension from one or other of these courts, at a time when not one beneficed clergyman in six was capable of composing a sermon. The edge of all those laws that were made against Popish recusants, who were continually plotting against the queen, was turned against Protestant Nonconformists; nay, in many cases, they had not the benefit of the law; for as lord Clarendon t rightly observes, queen Elizabeth carried her prerogative as high as in the worst times of king Charles I. “ They who look back upon the council-books of those times, (says his lordship), and upon the acts of the Star-chamber then, shall find as high instances of power and sovereignty upon the liberty and property of the subject, as can be since given. But the art, order, and gravity, of those proceedings (where short, severe, constant rules, were set, and smartly
Church History, b. 9. p. 76. and b. 1. p. 100.
† Vol. 1. p. 72. 8vo.