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First, To make a distinct party from the rest of the nation of the high episcopal men and the old cavaliers; who are to swallow the hopes of enjoying all the power and offices of the kingdom ; being also tempted by the advantage they may receive from overthrowing the act of oblivion; and not a little rejoicing to think, how valiant they should prove, if they could get any to fight the old quarrel over again, now they are possessed of the arms, forts, and ammunition of the nation.
Next, they design to have the government of the church sworn to as unalterable ; and so tacitly owned to be of divine right ; which, though inconsistent with the oath of supremacy, yet the churchmen easily break through all obligations whatsoever, to attain this station, the advantage which the prelate of Rome hath sufficiently taught the world.
Then, in requital to the crown, they declare the government absolute and arbitrary; and allow monarchy, as well as episcopacy, to be jure divino, and not to be bounded or limited by any human laws.
And to secure all this, they resolve to take away the power and opportunity of parliaments to alter any thing in church or state ; only leave them as an instrument to raise money, and to pass such laws as the court and church shall have a mind to ; the attempt of any other, how necessary soever, must be no less a crime than perjury.
And as the top stone of the whole fabric, a pretence shall be taken from the jealousies they themselves have raised, and a real necessity from the smallness of their party, to increase and keep up a standing army: and then in due time the cavalier and churchman will be made greater fools, but as arrant slaves as the rest of the nation.
In order to this, the first step was made in the act for regulating corporations, wisely beginning that, in those lesser governments, which they meant afterwards to introduce upon the government of the nation ; and making them swear to a declaration and belief of such propositions as they themselves afterwards, upon debate, were enforced to alter, and could not justify in those words*; so that many of the wealthiest, worthiest, and soberest men, are still kept out of the magistracy of those places.
The next step was in the act of militia t, which went for most of the chiefest nobility, and gentry, being obliged as lords-lieutenants, deputy-lieutenants, &c. to swear to the same declaration and belief; with the addition only of these words, “ in pursuance of such mi. litary commissions;" which makes the matter rather worse than better. Yet this went down smoothly, as an oath in fashion, a testimony of loyalty ; and none adventuring freely to debate the matter, the humour of the age, like a strong tide, carries wise and good men down before it. This act is of a piece ; for it establisheth a standing army by a law, and swears us into a military government.
Immediately after this, followeth the act of uniformity, by which all the clergy of England are obliged to subscribe, and declare what the corporations, nobility, and gentry had before sworn ; but with this additional clause of the militia act omitted. This the clergy readily complied with ; for you know, that sort of men are taught rather to obey than understand ; and to use that learning they have, to justify, not to examine, what their superiors command. And yet that Bartholomew. day was fatal to our church and religion, in throwing out a very great number of worthy, learned, pious, and orthodox divines, who could not come up to this, and other things in that act. And it is upon this occasion worth your knowledge, that so great was the zeal in carrying on this church affair, and so blind was the obedience required, that if you compute the time of the passing this act, with the time allowed for the clergy to subscribe the book of Common-Prayer thereby established ; you shall plainly find it could not be printed and distributed so, as one man in forty could have seen and read the book they did so perfectly assent and consent to *.
* By the act for the well governing and regulating of corporations, passed in the year 1661, all persons bearing any office of magistracy, place of trust, or other employment, relating to the government of any city, corporation, borough, &c. were ordered to take the following oath : “ I A. B. do declare and believe, that it is not lawful, upon any
pretence whatsoever, to take arms against the king; and that I do abhor that traitorous position of taking arms by his authority against his person, or against those that are com
missioned by him." + The act for ordering the forces in the several counties of this kingdom.
But this matter was not complete until the five-mile act passed at Oxford, wherein they take an opportunity to introduce the oath in the terms they would have itt. This was then strongly opposed by the lord treasurer Southampton, lord Wharton, lord Ashley t, and others; not only in the concern of those poor ministers that were so severely handled, but as it was in itself a most unlawful, and unjustifiable oath. However, the zeal of that time against all non-conformists easily passed the act.
This act was seconded the same session at Oxford, by another bill in the house of commons, to have im
* By the act of uniformity of public prayers, &c. which received the royal assent on the 19th of May, 1662, all parsons, vicars, or other ministers, &c. were ordered to conform to the church of England, before the feast of St. Bartholomew, or the 24th of August following, upon pain of losing all their ecclesiastical preferments, &c. And it is certain, that, “ the CommonPrayer Book, with the alterations and amendments ...., made by the convocation, did not come out of the press till a few days before the 24th of August." See Dr. Calamy's Abridgment of Mr. Baxter's History of his Life and Times, ubi supra, p. 201.
+ By that act, passed in the parliament held at Oxford the 9th of October, 1665, and intitled, An act for restraining non-conformists from inhabiting corporations; the non-conforming ministers were prohibited, upon a penalty of forty pounds for every offence, to come, unless only in passing upon the road, within five miles of any city, corporation, borough, town, or place where they had been ministers, or had preached, after the act of uniformity; unless they first subscribed to the declarations of the act of uniformity, and did take and subscribe the following oath: “ I A. B. do swear, that it is not lawful, upon any pretence
whatsoever, to take arms against the king: and that I do abhor that traitorous position of taking arms by his authority against his person, or against those that are commissioned by him, in pursuance of such commissions; and that I will not at any time endeavour
alteration of government, either in church or state." Anthony Ashley-Cooper, afterwards earl of Shaftsbury.
posed that oath on the whole nation. And the provi: dence, by which it was thrown out, was very remarkable ; for Mr. Peregrine Bertie, being newly chosen, was that morning introduced into the house by his brother the now earl of Lindsey, and sir Thomas Osborn*, now lord treasurer, who all three gave their votes against that bill ; and the numbers were so even upon the division, that their three votes carried the question against it. But we owe that right to the earl of Lindsey, and the lord treasurer, as to acknowledge that they have since made ample satisfaction for whatever offence they gave either the church or court in that vote.
Thus our church became triumphant, and continued so for divers years; the dissenting protestant being the only enemy, and therefore only persecuted; whilst the papists remained undisturbed, being by the court thought loyal, and by our great bishops not dangerous ; they differing only in doctrine and fundamentals ; but, as to the government of the church, that was, in their religion, in its highest exaltation.
This dominion continued unto them, until the lord Clifford, a man of a daring and ambitious spirit, made his way to the chief ministry of affairs by other and far different measures; and took the opportunity of the war with Holland, the king was then engaged in, to propose the declaration of indulgence t, that the dissenters of all sorts, as well protestants as papists, might be at rest, and so a vast number of people not be made desperate at home, while the king was engaged with so potent an enemy abroad. This was no sooner proposed, but the earl of Shaftsbury, a man as daring, but more able, (though of principles and interest diametrically opposite to the other) presently closed with it; and perhaps the opportunity I have had, by my conversation with them both; who were men of diversion, and of free and open discourses where they had a confidence ; may give you more light into both their designs, and so by consequence the aims of their parties, than you will have from any other hand, ,
* Sir Thomas Osborn, created afterwards baron of Kiveton and viscount Latimer, in 1673 ; earl of Danby, in 1674; marquis of Caermarthen, in 1689; and duke of Leeds, in 1694.
+ That declaration bore date, March 17, 1671-2.
My lord Clifford did in express terms tell me one day in private discourse : “ That the king, if he would be firm to himself, might settle what religion he pleased, and carry the government to what height he would. For if men were assured in the liberty of their conscience, and undisturbed in their properties, able and upright judges made in Westminster-hall
, to judge the causes of meum and tuum ; and if, on the other hand, the fort of Tilbury was finished to bridle the city ; the fort of Plymouth to secure the west; and arms for 20,000 in each of these ; and in Hull, for the northern parts; with some addition, which might be easily and undiscernibly made to the forces now on foot; there were none that would have either will, opportunity, or power to resist.” But he added withal,“ he was so sincere in the maintenance of property and liberty of conscience, that if he had his will
, though he should introduce a bishop of Durham (which was the instance he then made, that see being then vacant) of another religion, yet he would not disturb any of the church beside, but suffer them to die away, and not let his change (how hasty soever he was in it) overthrow either of those principles; and therefore desired he might be thought an honest man as to his part of the declaration, for he meant it really.”
The lord Shaftsbury (with whom I had more freedom) I with great assurance asked, “ What he meant by the declaration? for it seemed to me (as I then told him) that it assumed a power to repeal and suspend all our laws, to destroy the church, to overthrow the protestant religion, and to tolerate popery." He replied, all angry, “ that he wondered at my objection, there being not one of these in the case. For the king assumed no power of repealing laws, or suspending them, contrary to the will of his parliament or people; and not to argue with me at that time the power of the king's supremacy, which was of another nature